3DU aims to bring drones to more schools — ranging from K-12 to postgraduate programs — by making both hardware discounts and sponsorships available to these schools, as well as giving them classroom and curriculum support. The idea is to empower students to not just use the drones but also to develop their own apps for them using 3DR’s DroneKit software development kit.
“In the past, drone research and education was limited to aerospace or engineering departments,” 3DR CEO Chris Anderson said in a canned statement. “We’re seeing massive adoption of our drone platforms in education. The diversity and creativity of these programs is astonishing, from archaeology to cinematography to precision farming.”
The 3DU program will be accessible to students directly, too, as well as clubs, courses and schools.
The company is also partnering with Panoptes, which makes an obstacle-avoidance system for many popular drones, to offer similar discounts to students and schools (though the Panoptes’ system only works with 3DR’s older Iris+ model and not its more advanced Solo drone).
At the end of the day, a 15 percent discount on a drone probably won’t make a massive difference to most schools and student clubs. The Solo drone, after all, still retails for about $1,000 (plus $400 for the gimbal) before the discount. Getting sponsored by 3DR, however, may make all the difference, especially for schools that wouldn’t otherwise be able to run a drone program themselves. 3DR currently sponsors Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.