DJI Robotics taps Seagate to develop data storage for its drones


A commercial-grade drone such as DJI Robotics Inc.’s recently introduced Inspire 2 model can generate 120 gigabytes of footage during a 25-minute flight, which requires a lot of on-board storage to accommodate. Hard drive maker Seagate Technology plc has taken it upon itself to meet the demand.

Seagate today launched a product collaboration with DJI that will focus on developing specialized data storage gear for drones. The company didn’t provide too much information about its plans in the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but certain assumptions can be made based on the unique technical requirements of UAVs.

The first question to consider is what kind of storage medium Seagate has in mind for its flight-compatible drives. Most of the company’s revenue currently comes from selling traditional disk storage, but as The Register noted, flash memory is likely a better fit for drones given its lower space and power requirements. Then there’s the matter of what form the product will take: Seagate doesn’t produce many SSDs that are geared towards highly specialized, small form factor devices such as drones. As a result, the firm may very well end up designing a new drive from scratch with DJI’s input.

Seagate could potentially sell such a product not only to its newly announced partner but also to other UAV makers that hope to improve the capabilities of their models. Seeing that drones ranked as one of the most popular presents this past holiday season, establishing an early presence in this space may pay big dividends for storage giant down the line.

Furthermore, Seagate could build on its partnership with DJI to expand into the broader connected universe, which is emerging as an invaluable revenue source for component suppliers. Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc., for instance, are investing heavily to get their processors into the new smart cars that are hitting the road. Executing a similar move over on the storage side could help Seagate offset the declines in its traditional hard drive business.

For now, however, the company will focus on its collaboration with DJI. Seagate and DJI said that they will share more details about their collaboration later this year.

Image courtesy of DJI