DJI today announced its first real entry into the first-person-view (FPV) drone category – and it’s quite unlike any other drone in the company. Capable of cruising at 140 km / h (87 mph) but still offering plenty of smart features available on the company’s other drones, the DJI FPV looks like a fun option for experienced drone pilots and newcomers alike. It’ll set you back a pretty dime, though, starting at $ 1,299.
For those unfamiliar with it, FPV drones are essentially immersive drone flight experiences, involving a VR goggle-like headset (although they rarely feature a 3D effect). FPV drones are often used for drone racing and other high speed theaters. Unlike other DJI drones, which have focused on the filming and photography experience – and therefore prioritized convenience and obstacle avoidance – FPV seems primarily aimed at those who love the flying part of drones.
While FPV drones have always been a passionate segment of the market, DJI hopes to capture the fun of FPV flights while making them more accessible for newcomers.
More specifically, the drone comes with several flight modes intended for different skill levels. If you’re unfamiliar with FPV drones, for example, you might not realize that they don’t usually hover on their own. But in DJI’s Normal Mode, the drone will do just that, in addition to using its various sensors to help the drone slow down (but not completely) as it approaches obstacles. It basically works the same as other consumer drones, except you’re using immersive glasses instead of a phone screen.
There is also the manual mode, which allows the drone to maneuver in all kinds of ways, but disables all the crutches. No sensors, no hovering – you’re on your own. But there’s also the Unique Sport mode, a step between Normal and Manual. It offers much of the maneuverability of manual mode, but will still try to slow down when detecting an obstacle.
Another cool touch: The drone’s controller also includes an emergency and hover brake button – which also works in manual mode – helping to avoid costly crashes.
The FPV goggles themselves claim to outperform competing goggles, despite the use of digital technology. Most high-end FPV goggles are analog due to latency issues, but DJI manages to keep latency below 40ms, while still allowing 1440 x 810 resolution at 60 fps. Meanwhile, “Smooth” mode reduces latency to 28ms and increases frame rate to 120fps. Finally, a “ public ” mode allows you to bring up to eight other people for the ride through additional glasses.
The camera itself films at 4K and 60 fps or 1080p at 120 fps. It also uses DJI’s RockSteady stabilization to minimize jitter and shutter rolling, and distortion correction software helps reduce the fisheye distortion typical of FPV lenses. DJI’s transmission technology goes up to 10 km and sends videos up to 50 Mbps.
The DJI FPV is also designed to be more repairable than other DJI drones; the gimbal camera, landing gear and upper shell are easily replaceable. The battery life, meanwhile, is 20 minutes.
It should be noted that the performance specifications of the DJI FPV are by no means revolutionary in the world of FPV drones – I have seen faster speeds and lower prices. Still, there’s nothing that I know of that pairs the performance of FPV drones with affordability and sleek software from DJI.
The drone is available starting today for $ 1,299 – including the drone, controller, goggles, and a battery. For an additional $ 299, you can get the Fly More kit, which offers two additional batteries and a dedicated charging hub.
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Published March 3, 2021 – 01:31 UTC