For the average tech enthusiast, the idea of owning a drone is intriguing, but sits just slightly outside the early adopter zone. Sure we have played with those cheap remote control helicopters, but the thought of flying (and possibly crashing) a $1,000 drone has put the brakes on a purchase – until now.
DJI, the biggest name in professional drones, has released the Mavic Pro – a portable, easy to fly drone that just might get you reaching for your wallet this year.
Before that, however, this drone needs to overcome two key objections:
OBJECTION #1: Pro Drones are Too Big and Bulky.
The Mavic Pro is sleek and foldable. DJI designed it to be ultra portable and quick to launch. With four folding arms and propellers that tuck neatly away against its streamlined body, it is small enough to toss in a bag.
OBJECTION #2: I am Afraid I Will Crash It.
DJI has embedded something called FlightAutonomy as the Mavic Pro’s “brain and nervous system”, a complex network of hardware and software consisting of five cameras, GPS and GLONASS navigation systems, a pair of ultrasonic range finders, redundant sensors and 24 powerful computing cores.
According to the DJI, “FlightAutonomy can position, navigate and plan routes for Mavic Pro, enabling it to avoid obstacles in various environments, with or without the help of satellite signals. For navigation and obstacle avoidance, FlightAutonomy makes Mavic Pro self-navigational in various intelligent flight modes, and will avoid most obstacles at speeds up to 22 mph.”
Objections handled: Check and check.
Now on to some of the technical details. The Mavic Pro is equipped with a three-axis gimbal stabilized 4K camera with autofocus and a visual navigation system. It boasts a 4.3 mile (7 km) range and 27 minute flight time. The drone can be operated by a long range remote controller, or simply by your smartphone at shorter range. When controlled by a smartphone, DJI claims the “whole system can be set up and airborne in less than a minute”.
The Mavic Pro can be switched to Sport Mode, which allows speeds of up to 40 mph (64.8 kph) and will fly smoothly and remain stable in winds of up to 24 mph (38.5 kph). DJI has also embedded a geofencing system to help identify restricted areas, preventing flight in locations that might raise safety or security concerns automatically. This drone is also set to automatically return to its launch location if it ever loses contact with the controller or reaches critically low battery levels.
New Remote and Live View Performance
A new compact remote controller has been included and the Mavic Pro can also be controlled by a smartphone. The controller has a built-in LCD screen that displays essential telemetry data, and features dedicated buttons for functions such as Return-to-Home and pausing during Intelligent Flight modes.
ActiveTrack recognizes common subjects such as people, bicyclists, cars, boats and animals, which then sends Mavic Pro to follow behind, lead in front, circle above or track alongside.
Using your phone’s touchscreen, you can use TapFly to direct Mavic Pro to go wherever you want, avoiding obstacles along the way. In Gesture mode, you can use gestures to have Mavic Pro locate you, center you in the frame and take a picture as Mavic Pro’s flashing lights count down to the photo.
An updated version of DJI’s ActiveTrack recognizes common subjects such as people, bicyclists, cars, boats and animals, which then sends Mavic Pro to follow behind, lead in front, circle above or track alongside the subject, keeping the camera focused on the subject while you concentrate on flight maneuvers. A new feature called Terrain Follow mode allows this drone to fly along a slope while remaining at a constant height between 1 ft (0.3 m) and 33 ft (10 m).
Going All In
So now that it looks like you will be crossing over into drone-ownership why not fly the full geek flag and get a pair immersive DJI Goggles, displaying an 85-degree view from the drone in full 1080p for a true bird’s-eye view of the world below.
Drone technology is evolving quickly with companies like GoPro entering the market with their new Karma drone. DJI has been building drones for 10 years now and the Mavic Pro is a compelling combination of advanced technology, portability and ease-of-use.
With objections checked, fears of drone ownership are being allayed rapidly here and it looks like I will be joining Drone Nation this year. I fully expect to see you at the next membership meeting.
The DJI Mavic Pro retails for $999 with the remote controller included, and $749 without the remote controller.