The latest leak making a buzz today involves a DJI FPV drone. Colleague Josh Spires did an excellent writeup here, and we’d like to throw a few more thoughts into the mix.
When the very first leaks into what is now clearly a planned product began, we explored the concept of DJI producing an FPV drone. Here’s our story from then. We (maybe should say “I” instead since I was wrong!) suggested that it wouldn’t necessarily be a great fit. The reason? Well, it was mostly based on the existing market. Most people in the FPV scene like speed and acrobatics. They like to select their own components, build their own machines and tweak them, and go super fast. There’s also, especially in the early days, a fair amount of crashing.
We thought that might be a pain for DJI. (“Hi DJI Customer Support. So I just crashed my FPV drone into a million pieces. But I have DJI Care Refresh, so I’m good, right?)
The new @OsitaLV leak gives us the clearest pictures yet of this new product. Here’s the most intriguing shot:
We say intriguing because there are a few things that we can infer from the build.
As noted, DJI likely doesn’t want to be swamped with warranty issues (who would?). And so, this is an unusual look when compared with the design of FPV racing drones. The arms are incredibly thick and look like they’re built to take a tumble. I mean, compare them with the arms of a Mavic Air 2 or a Mavic Pro — these things are relatively massive.
One of the things we noted from the diagram is the fact there are large exposed screws. We speculate those arms are made to be user-replaceable, with the electronics likely to be a plug. Given that the arms are one of the most vulnerable parts on an FPV drone, this would make sense.
250 Grams? No way
We had an inquiry from a DroneDJ reader who’d seen the leak. He was asking if this drone might be under 250 grams.
No way. Just look at the size of the thing relative to the goggles. Unless it’s made of styrofoam — and it’s not, unless people are putting screws in styrofoam — this thing will weigh significantly more. Those who were hoping this might be under the 250-gram weight for regulatory purposes will be disappointed.
Let’s get back to that topic about DJI and FPV in general. We want to make a distinction here between FPV and racing drones. All racing drones are FPV, but not all FPV drones are built for racing. Look, for example, at the CineWhoop style drones that are all the rage these days. Yes, some of them are quite agile and quick. But there’s no way a CineWhoop is going to win a race against a beefed-up racing drone.
The same goes for the DJI. Why can we say this, without having seen it in person or flown it? Because it’s such a beefy build. Arms like that add weight. A body like this adds weight. All you have to do is look at any drone racing frame to appreciate the minimalist build style that marks FPV racing drones. Take, for example, this frame that DJI sells:
Flight time and more…
Let’s step back and take a big picture look. Most racing drones are limited in their flight times. They’re made to go fast and furious, but not for a very long time (though there are some models pushing that barrier). DJI is all about user experience. The company also has tons of experience with battery production and management. There is no way this drone will have a minimal flight time. Having longer flights is also a value proposition that would make the product more appealing. We’re not going to try to guess what the actual flight time would be, but you can bet it’s longer than most FPVs.
We noticed something else about the photo. We’re not certain about this at all, so take this proviso before reading our hypothesis. However, it appears as though the front and rear motors are at slightly different angles. Now, we’re saying it appears to be this way because we can’t tell for certain. If this was shot with a wide angle lens that distorts slightly, it could give it this appearance even if the angles are identical all the way around. But it does appear that the offset between the rear and forward motors may be different. In theory, this might be advantageous for forward flight. If you happen to be an engineer, maybe you could tell us your thoughts in the comments:
Let’s get real. A lot of people buy DJI products because the company is the world leader and builds great products. That’s a given. But many of those same people have zero drone experience when purchasing a DJI product. They take it out of the box and simply fly. DJI products do that exceptionally well, always. How often have you heard of a flyaway with a recent product?
This is important. DJI knows its customers. And it wouldn’t produce a product that people are going to fly and crash the way most start out with FPV products. So we’re guessing that DJI will put a lot of smarts into this that aren’t usually associated with FPV drones. We’re guessing there will be a beginner type of mode that will keep people out of trouble until they really get going. It will hover in place, have GPS, and return home. We can’t see this any other way.
We’re not going to guess a price, though if it’s bundled with DJI’s FPV system goggles, you can guess it’s going to be a significant chunk of change. But for someone who wants to get into FPV and start slow with a product that’s going to make that transition easy, we’re guessing this might be the ticket.
But we won’t truly know until we see it.
And we hope that is soon.