DJI has unveiled the latest drone in its arsenal, and has done so with something of a new form factor. Rather than have a large, rigid quadcopter design, the Mavic Pro is foldable, and is small enough to fit in your bag.
According to DJI, the new drone collapses to roughly the size of a water bottle, and can be easily controlled using nothing more than your smartphone. This means you no longer need to cart around a chunky hard-case backpack, or a bulky radio control pad.
Similar to the GoPro Karma drone announced recently, the four quadcopter arms fold in to the body, but do so in a very neat and incredibly compact fashion. Even the new radio control pad is smaller, more compact and features foldable smartphone holder arms.
Sticking with the new control pad, DJI managed to build in some DualShock-like feedback which makes the controller vibrate to warn you of obstacles when you’re flying. And you have the choice of using the controller - utilising your phone as just a monitor - or just using your phone on its own to control the Mavic Pro.
Although it’s small, don’t let that fool you in to thinking it isn’t powerful and full of top-notch features. For instance, it can last up to 27 minutes in flight on a full battery, and it takes less than a minute to set up and calibrate to get it flying.
Mounted to the all new tiny 3-axis stabilisation mount is a camera capable of recording up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, or full HD up to 96 frames per second. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.5 metres and a 12-megapixel sensor equipped with the ability to take still RAW pictures tuned purposefully for aerial imagery.
Perhaps more impressive is that the new transmission system has a range of up to 4.3 miles and can live stream 1080p footage directly to Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube through the connected DJI GO app. It can even flip 90 degrees to shoot vertical video and photo.
But that’s only part of this air-bound gadget's feature list. The ActiveTrack system means that the Mavic Pro can recognise objects like people, cyclists, cars, boats and animals then can send the drone to follow behind them, lead in front of them, track next to them or circle them. All of that it does automatically, or you can control the drone manually and keep the camera locked on the subject.
What’s really cool is that the new drone has a new Sport Mode which kicks the drone in to turbo, getting to speeds up to 40mph, and boosting the quadcopter's agility and responsiveness.
There’s also a Terrain Follow mode which can get it following a subject up a slope, while staying at a preset constant height from the ground between 0.3m to 10m.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the new Tripod Mode which keeps its speed down to 2.2mph and reduces the sensitivity of the control inputs, giving you more precise positioning for taking photographs.
To immerse you more in to the experience of flying the drone, DJI says its new gadget will pair with a new set of immersive DJI goggles. With these on your face, you’ll see 90-degree view straight from the drone’s camera in 1080p.
The goggles connect directly to the the Mavic Pro, and not the controller to ensure latency isn’t present, reducing lag to less than 120 milliseconds.
Impressively, these goggles are equipped with motion sensitivity so that when you look down, the drone camera tilts down, and looking to the left or right changes the direction the drone is pointing.
To keep its flight smooth and crash-free, the set of five built-in sensors can detect obstacles as far as 15 metres away while flying at speeds up to 22mph. It uses its downward-pointing sensors and barometer to detect any rising slopes, and then moves to a safer height if it’s getting too close to the ground below.
If that wasn’t enough, it can survive in winds up to 24mph and can automatically avoid restricted areas and - like other DJI drones - can return to its launch location automatically when it loses contact with the controller, or if the battery is running low. When it does return, it uses video taken at the time of launch to land within an inch of where it took off.
DJI Mavic Pro is available to pre-order from DJI’s online store for £999 and will ship in October. It will also be available in Apple stores from November.