A video released on Twitter shows what looks to be a prototype DJI Mavic Air 2 with a set of upward-facing sensors and a larger camera sensor. Those sensors could be for obstacle avoidance or – wait for it – trying out FPV on that drone body.
Twitter user OsitaLV has managed to get a video of what looks to be a prototype DJI Mavic Air 2 before the feature set was finalized. In the video, we can indeed see that it is a Mavic Air 2 thanks to the branding on the drone’s front left arm. We can also see two interesting things not present in the production version of Mavic Air 2. The additional upward facing sensors and a totally different camera module.
Upward facing sensors
We can see a DJI Mavic Air 2 with a slightly different top design that looks to accommodate two extra upward-facing sensors in the video. The sensors look to be the same as those found on the front and rear of the drone but it’s difficult to tell in this video.
Without more information, there are two obvious potential purposes for these sensors. The first is for upward obstacle avoidance. It is possible that the forward angle placement was chosen for flying under bridges and trees, allowing for better obstacle avoidance.
A more controversial but tantalizing take is that these sensors are FPV cameras. The positioning makes sense for forward FPV flight, with the back end of the drone up higher and the nose tilting down. And though you might say: Yeah, but why two sensors? It’s possible – and a reminder we’re just speculating – that this was built to provide stereo, 3D imaging when viewed through DJI’s high-resolution FPV system.
While the video appears to focus on the extra set of cameras on the top of the drone, it also appears to have a totally different camera and gimbal that resembles the Mavic 2 Pro at first sight. This is likely very similar as DJI wanted to keep the same design with the MA2 but eventually decided to ditch the silver for black.
Looking a the Hasselblad camera for comparison, we can see it is larger and has sharper edges on it. The camera lens internals also appears to be different, with a step-down type on the Mavic 2 and a simple black bezel on the Air 2. We can also see a silver ring around the camera lens itself, where the Mavic 2 doesn’t have this. The Hasselblad branding is also missing from the camera, but is likely a result of being a prototype unit.
The lens does appear to be larger than the current one on the Mavic Air 2, suggesting that DJI might have been testing out a larger sensor such as a 2/3-inch rather than the 1/2-inch sensor in the Mavic Air 2 today. It’s likely the sensor wasn’t able to work in such a small package becoming too hot and causing stability issues.
Is it real? Mavic 3?
Given that it’s a video and is constantly being moved around, I’d say it is real, or the person behind the video knows their way around visual effects. The video is also posted by OsitaLV, who has a track record of leaking products before they are released. Osita likely knows a few employees or friends of DJI who send him photos and videos of products.
Either way, it’s cool to see that an alternative version of a product that has already been released as we don’t often see what happens behind closed doors. It is also exciting to see this prototype as it could hint at the feature set of the highly anticipated DJI Mavic 3.
There is also a good chance that DJI was going to come out with this version of the drone but decided that the extra feature should be left for the larger Mavic 3 drone as a way to differentiate the products clearly. If the Mavic Air 2 came out with a larger sensor and upward facing sensors, why would someone buy a Mavic 3?
DJI FPV drone?
Another theory the DroneDJ team had about the upward-facing sensors is that DJI is re-using a Mavic Air 2 prototype as a prototype unit for the upcoming FPV drone. Since the sensors are angled forward slightly, DJI might have been using it to test out obstacle avoidance for its FPV drone. This would mean the obstacle avoidance system has four cameras at four angles to detect objects at a higher speed more accurately. Maybe DJI was looking at adding an FPV mode to the Mavic Air 2.
It wouldn’t surprise me if DJI were to add obstacle avoidance to its FPV drone as it would be focused on capturing cinematic footage rather than racing. Essentially, making DJI’s take on a smart cinewhoop-style drone.
What do you think of the video? Is it real or is it fake? Are we way off in speculating this could be FPV-related? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.