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Qualcomm introduces the Snapdragon Flight, a brain for smarter, more powerful drones

Qualcomm wants to be for drones what it’s been for smartphones. The company behind the ubiquitous Snapdragon system on a chip (SoC) for phones recently announced the Snapdragon Flight, a development platform for drones.

The Snapdragon Flight includes a board based on the Snapdragon 801 processor, which can be found in the likes of the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, and Sony Xperia Z3. It also features a quad-core 2.26GHz processor, 4K video processing, dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, computer vision, support for real-time flight control systems, a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver, and support for quick recharging, according to Wired.

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“The integrated design is engineered to reduce the size, weight, and power consumption leading to longer flight times and additional safety,” according to Qualcomm, which announced the Snapdragon Flight at the Qualcomm: Accelerating Robotics event.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by China-based drone manufacturer Yuneec will be the first to use the Snapdragon Flight, with a 2016 target launch. Qualcomm is also in discussions with other drone manufacturers about using the Snapdragon Flight, according to Raj Talluri, SVP of product management at the company.

“We first concepted Snapdragon Flight more than a year ago,” Talluri told Wired. “It grew out of conversations and requests we were having with customers, as well as a need we were seeing in the market.”

Qualcomm’s entry into the drone space could help its overall business, as the chipmaker faces increasing competition from the likes of Samsung and Intel in the smartphone market.