Recently, there has been a lot of hype around a new FPV drone from DJI. While this is great news and a wicked new product, who is this drone really for?
Back in 2019, DJI released their digital FPV system. In many ways, this was a breakthrough in technology for digital video transmission. DJI, in fact, was one of the first companies to release a digital system and, now, the most popular and known amongst pilots.
Though the technology was outstanding and the range was solid, this product still fell into a very niche market. Over time, that market has grown, and the DJI Digital FPV system proved to be pretty dang reliable. It is even very common to find on some of these 15-30lb or $20,000 FPV lifter rigs.
Following the success of these products, I think DJI was ready to produce their first actual FPV drone. About two years ago, when I first got into FPV, my buddy asked me if DJI would ever make an FPV drone. With over five years of flying DJI, my answer was optimistic and subtle. I said that they would, but the reason they haven’t yet is that their number one concern is safety for their consumers. DJI has been putting obstacle avoidance in their drones since 2016 when the Phantom 4 was released. This hardware/software integration gives pilots and the drone reassurance if anything happens in flight. Though these features can be restricted or shut off, this leads us to think about who is the DJI FPV drone really for.
DJI’s Track Record
DJI was founded by Frank Wang in 2006. It has been alive for over a decade and is now leading the consumer drone industry. This Chinese Tech company is valued in the multi-billion dollar range and continues to grow by providing the world with reliable aerial products. If you look more into DJI, you will find they make more than just make little drones and gimbals. With a name so big, safety is huge, and crashes are not something DJI wants to have happen often. This could risk future sales and clientele if the brand is heard to be unreliable or unsafe.
Many of their drone models come standard with specific features. GPS, obstacle avoidance, and auto-landing, to name a few. So how do features like this help with the release of their FPV drone?
DJI FPV for Beginners and Novice
The DJI FPV drone will go down in history as one of the first user-friendly FPV drones – a feat just like the first iPhone from Apple where they made the phone and music so simple for anyone to use. The most significant thing about this product is how the software and hardware are bundled into a system that can be learned and flown by anybody.
People who already fly DJI drones will more than likely adapt to a platform like this. After all, it is supposed to fly like a typical DJI drone until the mode is switched over to fly like an FPV drone. With the DJI name, people who know the brand and trust it have a fantastic option to make their entry into FPV flying. This product puts all those great features DJI is known for into an FPV drone for consumers.
Will fly like a Mavic out of the box compared to adding stable/horizon mode in betaflight. Will fly like an FPV drone when activated to. Smart batteries, easy charging compared to learning cell count and understanding amps to charge at. Quality camera with stability built in compared to always carrying action cams. Auto take-off and landing with potential for intelligent flight modes. Obstacle avoidance to reduce risk of a crash. GPS so you know where the drone is. Return home with obstacle avoidance reduces chance of losing drone when returning. No need for hours learning drone parts, soldering, or programming/tuning craft.
No customizable features such as different motors, electronics, batteries, and action cams. Repairs may have to go through DJI and parts through DJI dealers. Excluded from knowledge when it comes to building/repairing drones and understanding what the components of the build do. Price may be high for “beginners.”
DJI FPV for FPV Pilots
How can an 800-gram drone with obstacle avoidance, GPS, and a built-in camera appeal to the current FPV pilot? The people in this community like to pick out their parts, build from scratch, and do their own repairs. DJI is a closed interface like Apple. It happens to be like this for a very good reason, which may be a hard pill to swallow for some FPV pilots. Technically, this isn’t a real “FPV” drone where anything can be modified on the aircraft.
FPV pilots who are into racing will more than likely see no need for this hot new product right now. Yet people who mainly film, freestyle, and do long-range flight may love this piece of technology. From previous articles on DroneDJ, we are looking at an estimated 20 minutes of flight, 4k 60fps at 120mbs, and, more than likely, some really good range for both controller and video transmission. Right off the bat, these are some fantastic specs that closely compare to current high-end 3-5” FPV builds.
20 minutes of flight compared to the average 3-10 minute flights on a standard build. Smart batteries and easy charging compared to the bulkier FPV chargers. Obstacle avoidance + GPS combo compared to just GPS, which doesn’t have an avoidance system. Long-range HD flights out of the box compared to analog with specific upgrades to do long range. Fixed camera compared to always bringing action cams for recording.
Price is estimated to start at $1,300, which can build a really solid analog rig or two. Weight at 800 grams compared to lighter builds that could be under 500 grams. Locked shell compared to open building platform. Fixed camera does not allow for other action cams unless rigged. No other FPV parts or batteries will be compatible with this drone.
If this is going to be your first FPV drone, it may be harder to gravitate towards the ones you actually have to work on. Being able to build the drone unlocks access to understanding the parts and what they do. Without that, you can still be a great pilot, but you would just be lacking knowledge when it comes time for some repairs. The best part about FPV is learning everything that comes with the hobby.
In my mind, this new FPV Drone from DJI will certainly change the game. Though you may not get that hands-on FPV experience with the building of the drone, you don’t necessarily need it to fly. For many pilots, aerial production companies, and beginners, this drone serves a huge purpose. It is for the person looking for reliability, safety features, and absolute ease of use. Typical FPV drones require much knowledge to acquire those three things. Yet, DJI will remove all hassle for whoever decides to learn and use this new system.