Yesterday, we wrote about a heavily customized DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone that was outfitted with a FLIR Boson thermal camera. Today we have more details on the drone as well as pricing info and how to get one. Could this custom drone replace both a DJI Matrice 210 and Zenmuse XT2 and the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual? It seems it very well could. Read on!
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom FLIR Boson thermal drone
Yesterday, after we posted this article about the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom FLIR Boson drone, we were contacted by the maker of said drone, Sheldon the Managing Director from UK-based Drone Doctor.
Whereas the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual ($2,699) must be seen as an extension to the DJI Matrice 210 and Zenmuse XT2 according to Romeo Durscher from DJI, this DJI Mavic 2 Zoom with Boson thermal camera and original DJI zoom lens might be the drone to get for most law enforcement officials, firemen, and first responders. It provides much better thermal image quality at a higher resolution than the M2E Dual. The only thing missing would be the FLIR MSX feature that allows you to view thermal and visible light in a combined image in real-time. The customized DJI Mavic 2 Zoom with Boson thermal camera will sell for about 3,600 GBP ($4,580) which includes the Boson itself.
Details on Mavic 2 Zoom FLIR Boson thermal drone
Here’s the email he wrote me with all the details and background info on the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom FLIR Boson thermal drone developed by DroneDoctor.
I just saw you wrote an article about the Mavic 2 photos I put on Facebook earlier.
This drone has been built by us, Drone Doctor. We’re the UK’s recommended DJI repairer but we do some custom projects “on the side” – our in depth knowledge of DJI’s system architecture allows us to go pretty far with reverse engineering and modification.
We started work on this Boson integration back when the M2E was announced – with no thermal camera in sight. Demand for a thermal Mavic was high so we started work on the integration. The Lepton sensor, as used by the M2E Dual, was considered insufficient for SAR work and improving the optics was deemed uneconomical, so we went with the Boson sensor.
We used a Boson 320 due to size. The Boson has some incredible image enhancement algorithms built in, and is perfect for SAR use on a Mavic. Plenty of other people offer Boson mounts for a Mavic, but all of them use separate monitors, batteries, add weight and are not integrated with the aircraft. This solution is fully integrated and the Mavic works as normal, just with a thermal camera.
The housing on top is to house the image processing circuitry. We’ll be able to make it a bit smaller.
DJI then announced the M2E Dual and we decided to abandon the project. Once we realised they used a Lepton sensor, we decided to continue. The Lepton is a great, cost effective sensor, but the tiny resolution and wide field of view make it very poor for Search and Rescue use.
Basically we take a Mavic 2 zoom and modify it with the following:
– Physical knobs and buttons on the controller to change colour palette, digital zoom on the thermal camera and some other features like discreet mode/changing some other parameters of the thermal camera etc… This means that the unit can be operated when wearing gloves and there is no need to use the touch screen on the mobile device when in flight.
– Adding a Boson 320 camera. This is fitted onto the original gimbal along with the original 2x optical zoom camera. Everything works as normal. We have chosen the Boson 320 with a 6.3mm lens, giving a 34 degree field of view that allows human heat detection as far as 900 feet away, and you can identify a person waving their arms at 450ft.
Basically, everything works as a with normal Mavic, except you press a button and it switches to a thermal image. There are no extra parts to clip on, no extra batteries, no extra monitors etc…
This is obviously a huge advantage over the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual for search and rescue and surveillance purposes.
There are some downsides to our solution however. We have designed it in a way that the Mavic’s systems doesn’t actually know that anything has changed. This means we do not have to modify the firmware on the drone and that there will be no problems with firmware updates causing problems. It also means we don’t have to modify the app, you use DJI Go 4 as normal.
This means that, whereas the M2ED can record both thermal and visible light footage at the same time, our solution can only record one at a time. I.E. if you have the live feed set to thermal, then the recorded video will be thermal. The switch over is pretty much instant however (<0.2 sec) so it’s probably not a huge issue for most people. The Boson sensor is also not radiometric.
There is also price. Right now we are projecting a price of 3,600 GBP plus any taxes, though that does include the sensor. At the moment we are only looking to sell to UK customers, though we could ship the modified drone and anyone could then source the sensor themselves and fit it, since you only have to plug it in and then install four screws.
P.s. The photos we released are of a very rough prototype with roughly 3d-printed parts. Final product will use CNC aluminium and SLA printed parts.
What do you think about the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom FLIR Boson thermal drone from the DroneDoctor? A viable alternative to the either the DJI Matrice 210 and Zenmuse XT2 or the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual? Let us know in the comments below.