The new DJI FPV drone may not be the best FPV drone you can buy but it is the best thing that has happened to this hobby. DJI’s digital FPV system was a huge step forward for the hobby but that was just beginning. This drone is the start of something special.
First, let me start by saying that I don’t really like the DJI FPV drone. It’s too fragile to use as a freestyle quad and doesn’t quite cut it as a cinematic tool for me. I think it should have been designed differently. But this isn’t about the drone itself but rather the technology that it brings to the table. It is going to make FPV a better hobby in a handful of different ways.
Incredible Stability on the DJI FPV drone
I love flying FPV and I love flying acro. However, it is incredibly difficult. FPV drones were built for incredible freedom of flight but with that comes a huge learning curve. Sure I could fly in angle mode but I still won’t have the control or stability that the DJI FPV drone has. This is something that could easily be integrated on FPV drones. Making a drone that can be easy to fly but also have the ability to fly in acro mode would be much more welcoming to new pilots.
The DJI FPV drone’s GPS is light years ahead of the technology we currently have readily available to us that are building our own drones. The ability to pinpoint location, hold location and even return home and land safely and accurately is a big bonus.
You could argue the GPS stability and flight modes make it a safer drone but there are more important and impressive upgrades and improvements. The brake button is a revelation. Having the ability to pause a flight, to have the drone stop and hover on a dime is a great feature. It could be used to avoid a crash, give a disoriented pilot a chance to re-establish themselves, or just give the pilot a chance to compose themself. A larger, more widespread implementation of this idea would be great.
ADS-B notifications in the goggles are an incredible and underrated feature. Flying FPV limits the pilot to one view. Without a visual observer, it is hard to see any other approaching aircraft. This feature isn’t just a safety upgrade but a potential lifesaver. Alerting pilots of larger aircraft in the area is a great feature and can’t be understated especially if you are in the goggles.
There are even multiple sensors that help pilots know when obstacles are in their path. Even something as simple as the bottom LED light being able to illuminate the ground when you can can be helpful.
Improved flight experience
The DJI FPV drone is capable of up to 20 minutes of flight. While that is slow cruising it is still capable of getting about half that when flying freestyle. How many 6S freestyle quads out there get 10 minute flight times? How about 5 minute flight times? DJI has been building impressive drivetrains and this is no exception. As they continue to push flight times up we continue to benefit.
The quick-release propellers on my DJI Mavic are nice but I don’t even have to swap them out. That is hardly the case with my FPV drones. I’m constantly swapping them after crashes. That involves a wrench and awkwardly holding the motor and often a few choice words. These quick-change props are a definite and immediate upgrade.
I understand this would take changes to the motors as well, if I was a motor manufacturer I’d quickly start making this change. While the props have a few other interesting changes, they are slightly larger and harder I think the best benefit is the ability to swap them out quickly. This actually isn’t a new idea. DJI has been doing this with FPV drones for quite some time.
Flying FPV can be disorienting for new pilots and sometimes knowing exactly where you are, or where your drone is can be confusing. Having the home point displayed in the goggles is great. Also having the ability to locate your drone on a map after it has landed (crashed) plus having it beep and light up is a great feature. Sure I can use my beeper but the functionality of the Find My Drone in the app is clearly superior.
The single-hand motion controller is surprisingly easy to use and quite intuitive. We’ve used one-handed controls before but this one is by far the best option we’ve tested. It opens up doors for first-time flyers as well as for people that aren’t able to fly with both hands.
The HD video feed was a game-changer. Being able to see clearly for over 6 miles of range is mind-blowing. Having clear HD video that is stabilized without having to carry another camera like a GoPro is another great feature. While the footage isn’t quite GoPro quality I expect the technology to continue to improve until it is. Having a one-axis gimbal to smooth footage is a bonus. Plus being able to use it to adjust the angle or to pan up and down is great.
Now you can even share the HD video feed with a friend in real-time by plugging your phone into the goggles and connecting to the DJI Fly app. DJI even built a simulator app that you can practice flying the drone in. I’d love to see more drone manufactures release features like these.
No Tinkering Required
While learning Betaflight and soldering is a right of passage into the FPV hobby it is also a huge barrier to entry. Ready-to-fly packages have become more popular and this follows that trend. Not having to dive into Betaflight and just being able to fly is a definite bonus. Yes, I can still adjust my PIDs and rates but I don’t have to if I’m not comfortable doing so. This drone is a great entry into FPV for DJI, even if the drone itself isn’t great. Hopefully, other FPV manufactures are paying attention, if they are we all stand to win.
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