Autel Robotics has released a few new drones at CES this year – its heavily leaked Dragonfish VTOL and the new EVO 2 RTK series of drones. Autel teased the launch of the new products last week, to which we then speculated about the drones it would release.
EVO 2 RTK series
After a video leaked last year, we now know the EVO 2 RTK series is official. Looking at the product page for the two RTK-equipped drones, it appears to be a standard EVO 2 Pro and EVO 2 Dual 640T with an RTK module on top. The new module will give the drones improved accuracy to the centimeter.
An RTK base station has also been announced with A-RTK and GNSS support to ensure the drone is in the right location at the right time. The drone module also supports PPK and time synchronization, allowing users to choose the best setup to suit their needs. The flight time has also been reduced by a few minutes as a result of the added weight.
The module looks to be held down with two screws and likely interfaces with a set of pins from the images. This could mean that Autel is working on other modules, similar to the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise has. If you are interested in the specs, the new RTK drones share with the original EVO 2 series. You can check out our coverage here.
Autel Robotics Dragonfish
Autel Robotics advertises the Dragonfish with the slogan “Subvert Tradition, Command the Future.” The Dragonfish is stated as having a maximum flight time of 120 minutes, an 18.6-mile video transmission range, and the ability to get in the air in under four minutes.
Dragonfish has a maximum flight speed of 67 miles per hour and can fly in winds of up to 31 miles per hour. The drone has a maximum take-off weight of 17.2 pounds, with 3.3 pounds being reserved for payloads. The Dragonfish is also accurate down to one centimeter with a measurement error of one part per million.
Intelligence and autonomy
A big selling point for the drone is its intelligence and autonomous capabilities. The Dragonfish can complete a mission and return home automatically, track objects such as a stolen car, circle above a point of interest, fly at a constant height above the ground below, and complete multi-point missions. All of this is possible thanks to advanced algorithms that keep the drone in check and make it easier for the user to fly the drone.
Safety and redundancy
We can see Autel has heavily focused on safety and creating redundant systems to make the Dragonfish as safe as it can. The Dragonfish has two batteries, IMU, barometers, compasses, and GPS RTK modules in case one stopped working, allowing the backup to kick into action. If the drone detects it’s about to stall or can’t continue flying in the current mode, it will change into multi-rotor mode, which adjusts all the propellers to swivel vertically to mimic a quad-copter.
Control surfaces and devices all have a dual CAN bus communication in case one connection goes bad. The drone also uses AI to continuously check its systems throughout the flight to detect faults before they occur.
Interchangeable payload system
The Dragonfish currently has three first-party camera payloads and the ability for third-parties to create compatible payloads. The first of the three payloads is a 4K dual-sensor camera with a 4K 20x optical zoom main camera paired with a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera. The second is a triple sensor camera with a 4K 20x optical zoom camera, 48-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a radiometric thermal camera. The final payload option is a multispectral camera with an RGB 48-megapixel wide-angle camera and five 2-megapixel multispectral sensors.
To control the Dragonfish, Autel Robotics has created the Autel Voyager software capable of advanced mission planning, intelligent tracking, flight history tracking, and other autonomous features. The company has also created a ground station with a 9.7-inch, 1,000 nit display with antennas capable of the advertised 18.6-mile video transmission range.
Photo: Autel Robotics