DJI recently released the DJI Goggles RE (Race Edition). This is just DJI’s most recent foray into the hobbyist racing drone market. With the Goggles announcement came a fun promotional video, more on that below. Like the Phantom X video before it, the latest promotional video gave us a teaser, this time for the Phantom R, a racing drone capable of beating fixed-wing aircraft.
Has DJI Already Created a Race Drone?
If you’ve seen the DJI Goggles RE video then you have already seen there are two quadcopters carrying the new OcuSync digital camera streaming live FPV to their Goggles RE. There is a small micro quad and also the Phantom R racing edition. Check out the video below if you haven’t already seen it.
In the video, the Phantom R wins the race and his buddies imply that he didn’t build his drone. If he didn’t then who did? DJI. While you were waiting for DJI to make the Phantom R we decided we didn’t want to wait for it. So we went ahead and built one ourselves. Check it out.
DJI Already Makes Racing Hardware
Back in February 2017, DJI announced a new lineup of racing propellers, motors, and ESCs (electronic speed controllers). The “Snail” series propellers feature DJI’s famous quick-release design and the props have an innovative shape that is supposed to make them more durable when they inevitably experience a crash. The Snail motors are described as powerful and lightweight. The Takyon ESCs that DJI makes are better at working with a variety of propellers, motors, and batteries than other ESCs on the market.
Now that DJI has goggles, motors, ESCs, and props it is only a matter of time before they release a full-fledged racing drone.
So a Racing FPV Phantom?
Let’s face it, racing drones on the market today don’t typically look much like a DJI Phantom. The drones in the Phantom line-up are sleek-looking quads with a 350 mm diagonal motor-to-motor distance. The hollow plastic shells that serve as the frame of the Phantom drones are built to host a variety of electronics including GPS, a top-notch 3-axis gimbal, and obstacle avoidance sensors.
Racing drones, on the other hand, are bare-bones designs. The frames are typically based on nothing more than a flat piece of carbon fiber composite and the motors are usually no more than 250 mm apart. If DJI is going to build a racing drone they will need it to be strong and easy to repair. It is conceivable that you could strip the parts out of a plastic shell just as quickly as you could off of a carbon fiber frame, but that remains to be seen.
Phantoms Can Shred, We Have Proof
A pilot named “Mr. Steel” modified his Phantom and pretended it was DJI who did it. Like DJI, he called his drone “Phantom R”. Mr. Steel made an entertaining video, check it out. I give him props (tri-props), it certainly boosted his YouTube following. If nothing else, this proves that a Phantom frame can do some pretty awesome acrobatics.
Spark Race Edition?
Strength, weight, and speed will be a real challenge, so it is conceivable that DJI goes with a concept more similar to the Spark than the Phantom.
RC Logger just released their Xtreme V2 drone and our first thought was that it looked like a race version of the Spark. They did a nice job of creating an all-in-one FPV drone that is easy to set up and easy for beginners to fly. It also can record HD video without the need to strap an auxiliary camera like a GoPro Session to the drone. It is an innovative drone and we think that DJI will release something similar, but a much higher price point.
An All-New DJI Racer
The most likely scenario, however, is that DJI creates an all-new FPV race drone that is not based on the Phantom, Spark, or Mavic drones. It would likely use the all-new OcuSync HD camera system and be compatible with their DJI Goggles RE. I’m guessing it would be a 220 mm or smaller-sized quad, but have plenty of power for pro racers. For now, we will keep dreaming of what DJI has in store for us.
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