DJI Redefines Flying with New FPV Drone and Motion Controller03/02/2021
Today, after months of anticipation, DJI unveiled its first-ever FPV drone: the DJI FPV. The official reveal comes almost a year after the rumors about the alleged first-person flyer began circulating through the Internet. Based on today's announcement, the wait appears to have been worth it. Not only is DJI's newest drone a high-speed, low-latency FPV racer, it also functions as a conventional flyer and aerial imager capable of shooting hi-res pictures and video up to 4K60. In other words, today, DJI didn't just announce a new drone. It announced a new drone category: the FPV hybrid.
DJI FPV at a Glance
Today's announcement gave us a lot to talk about, but for anyone who's interested in just the top-level specs and features, here are some of the highlights at a glance. As you read through the list, feel free to reference our FPV glossary if you a come across a word, phrase, or acronym you would like to know more about.
- Flight speed up to 87 mph
- Flight time up to 20 minutes
- Transmits video from up to 6.2 miles away
- 3 different flight modes (S, N, and M) for 3 different types of flight
- Obstacle sensing (available in N mode)
- Emergency brake and hover safeguard
- Modular design with replaceable gimbal, landing gear, and top shell
- 2 different FPV modes (Low-Latency and High-Quality)
- Less than 28ms of video transmission latency in Low-Latency mode
- 150° "Super Wide Angle" FOV (field of view)
- Acro (M) and self-leveling (S & N) modes available
- Supports DJI Goggles V2 and other select third-party headsets
- Supports new DJI Motion Controller for more intuitive FPV flight experience
Aerial Imaging Features:
- 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
- Records 4K60 video
- Captures 3840 x 2160 still images
- RockSteady EIS (electronic image stabilization)
- Up to 120 Mbps bit rate
- Supports H.264 and H.265 video formats
What's the Big Deal?
It's hard to oversell the importance of today's announcement. Obviously, any time the Number One maker of anything builds something new, it's important. DJI is the Number One drone maker in the world, so whenever it announces a new product, that automatically makes it a big deal. But what makes this particular announcement even more impactful is that A) It shows that DJI is committed to growing its FPV catalog and B) It makes FPV flying much more accessible.
OK, but How?
So, here's the thing: FPV flying isn't easy. It requires more skill and technical understanding than any other type of flying. FPV racers, for example, have to know certain design specifics like the differences between brushed and brushless motors, what a PDB does, or whether they should install individual ESCs or go with a 4-in-1 stack. And that's just on the knowledge side of things. Actual FPV flying is even more demanding. True story: The first time I flew an FPV drone, I banked so hard that I literally fell out of my chair—that's how immersive FPV flying can be.
The point is this: FPV flying is kind of a lot. It's intimidating. At first, it's not easy. And because of all the extra components and specialized equipment (and, yes, repairs), it can be more costly. Put those challenges together and you have a fairly sizable barrier to entry. Often, people don't take up FPV because there are too many obstacles in the way.
One of the reasons the DJI FPV is such a big deal is because it effectively removes those barriers and concerns. Are you intimidated by all the moving parts and pieces commonly associated with an FPV system? That is totally understandable and totally no longer an issue. The DJI FPV "Fly More Combo" comes with everything you need to start true FPV flying (including FPV Goggles) right out of the box. Nothing to build, assemble, or solder.
Are you worried about the degree of difficulty? Don't be. The DJI FPV comes with three different flight modes: M, S, and N. Both S and N modes feature specific safety protocols that will allow first-time pilots to get the hang of FPV flying. On top of that, DJI has introduced an emergency brake-and-hover feature that automatically stops the craft and returns it to a neutral hover. This one-button failsafe is available in all three flight modes, so even if you're flying in acro (S mode), you can "pull" the e-brake at any time to bail yourself out.
Do you have commitment issues? The reason I waited so long to get into FPV flying is because I was afraid I wouldn't like it as much as regular flying, and then I'd be stuck with all this FPV equipment I never used, including my drone, which wasn't much use to me outside of a bando. But with the DJI FPV, you don't have to worry about that. The DJI FPV is a true hybrid, which means it isn't relegated to just one function. Yes, you can use it for high-speed, first-person thrills, but you can also take off the FPV goggles and leisurely soar through the sky using good ol' third-person perspective. Or you can use it to capture incredible aerial photographs and up to 4K60 video—which is something you just can't do with other FPV drones. In other words, you don't have to worry about getting the FPV and then not using it, because it basically does everything. And that's a very big deal.
In addition to the FPV drone, DJI also announced its new Motion Controller, which might be an even bigger deal than the first-person flyer. If you're wondering how that's possible, I invite you to look at this thing:
Folks, this is a brand-new design—not just a new controller, a new controller design, with new, gesture-based functionality that allows you to control pitch, roll, and yaw simply by moving your hand. Goodbye stick input. Adios need for opposable thumbs. I now fly only by waving my hand around like a magician. Seriously, this is so cool I'm not sure I care how well it works. I hope it does work well. I hope it's as awesome as it appears. But even if it's not, this is still a revolutionary idea, and the fact that DJI is willing to push the envelope and try out new designs like this is really exciting.
Yeah, but Is It Good?
Based on what we saw today, there are plenty of reasons to believe the DJI FPV drone will be an absolute game changer. It comes with a lot of hats: racer, aerial cinematographer, hobbyist, etc. And on paper, it looks like it can do just about everything you'd want from a drone. But we've only just now seen this thing. We haven't tested it. We haven't flown it in the wild or used the 4K camera. There's a lot that can happen between the spec sheet and an airfield. So, with that in mind, we will say that while the new DJI FPV does indeed look incredible, we can't be certain how good it really is until we've tested it ourselves—which we will, very soon.
Are you as excited by DJI's announcement as we are? Ready to take the leap into FPV? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section, below.
The DJI FPV is intended for customers who have previous experience flying drones. For pilots who do not have FPV experience, it is highly recommended they fly in either S or N mode. Only pilots who are experienced with FPV flying should attempt to fly the DJI FPV in M mode, which relies solely on manual stick input and does not offer any kind of obstacle avoidance, self-leveling, or automatic safeguard. Please always fly according to local laws and regulations.