When the Phantom 4 first released in March 2016, it was DJI’s first consumer-grade drone with obstacle avoidance, a system that senses surroundings and prevents the quadcopter from crashing. Similar technology can also be seen in a few vehicles today. Automakers like Ford, Toyota and Lincoln have implemented what they call pre-collision systems (PCS) into some of their cars and trucks. One example of how closely related a drone’s obstacle avoidance system is to a vehicle’s PCS can be seen in this Ford F-150 demos with drones video:
The Ford F-150 in the video used a mixture of radar and camera technology to scan ahead of the vehicle. According to Ford’s press release, their PCS is designed to provide a warning to the driver once it detects an incoming obstacle, and it can also automatically apply full braking force by itself.
Drones and obstacle avoidance
Similar to how a drone with obstacle avoidance automatically stops itself once it detects an obstacle, vehicles equipped with PCS use radar detectors to signal when to brake.