Photo credit: wired.com
There is no doubt that drones have long since moved far beyond the weekend fun flier with perhaps a bit of candid aerial video onto more commercial and enterprise applications. One of the main companies at the leading edge of that innovation has been DJI. They have thrilled and excited both the hobby flier as well as the more serious commercial drone or unmanned aerial technology user for many years. Their Inspire and Phantom drones have been amongst the most widely sold and used drones in the developing history of the UAV industry.
Aerial photography and aerial cinematography have become is a massive business and is growing and expanding into applications far beyond the imaginations of the early drone operators. In the past, those seeking quality enterprise drones would take quality drones and, with the addition of high-quality cameras and accessories, would use them for a wide range of applications.
DJI have now announced the release of a purpose built enterprise drone that sets new standards in enterprise drone technology. Announced recently at the World Mobile Congress, the Matrice 200 or M200 series has raised the bar in this area. DJI borrowed the controller and basic design from the Inspire 2 while making it foldable into a compact design like the Mavic Pro. But that is where the similarities end.
This super rugged workhorse has been custom made for extreme work, even in the most severe weather conditions. It is fully enclosed and well sealed with an IP43 certification which means it can handle some pretty serious rain and is able to fly competently in high winds. The dual-battery power system has the technology to heat the batteries on the go meaning it can even operate in sub-zero temperatures.
Aerial videography has never had it this good. The M200 has one permanent front mounted camera for constant streaming to the pilot with a bottom mounted gimbal to attach your choice of camera. The M210 and M210 RTK also have space for 2 additional front mounted cameras as well as an upward facing camera, a first for DJI. This will be particularly useful for bridge inspections where aerial filming can do close, precision inspections.
They have also take obstacle avoidance to new levels with a multitude of technologies. Adapting a fairly recent aircraft technology known as ADS-B or Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast to allow the pilot to safely land the drone if there is another aircraft in the vicinity. DJI call the technology AirSense and it is far superior to radar.
Apart from top quality drone photography and drone cinematography, there are numerous other applications these new drones can be used for.
They have been designed with high-end enterprise use in mind for safe precision work.
Director Enterprise Solutions at DJI, Paul Guo explains some of the applications they envisage for the M200 series.
Critical Infrastructure Inspections - This important and often urgent work is extremely dangerous when performed by humans. It is also a slow process where time is often of the essence. The M200 will enable the fast, safe and efficient inspection of bridges, buildings, roads with the ability to get in close and inspect even the smallest of faults or potential problems. This is not only safer and faster but significantly less expensive than traditional methods.
Public Safety – The M200, with the use of thermal and visual sensors, rescue personnel can quickly and safely get a handle on the situation in natural disasters, fires and searches.
Energy Facility Inspections – Again, another time-consuming and dangerous task that can be done with great precision and safety on power lines, oil rigs and wind turbines.
Construction Site Mapping – Planning and review of construction areas can be performed over large areas in a short space of time. This can be done during even the worst weather conditions.
These examples are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are countless other applications that this done can do better, faster and safer than older methods.
The 17-inch propellers are powered by high powered motors. They have an operation range of 7km with a 38 minute fly time. The maximum payload is 2kg and they have IP43 Ingress protection.
The M200 weighs 3.8kg and measures 716mm220mm236mm.
The integrated flight controller boasts two IMUs as well as GNSS unit. This combines with additional analytical redundancy systems for safety and precision.
Apart from the familiar DJI GO 4 app they have also incorporated a new, more enterprise orientated DJI Pilot app.
Pre-orders are open and the M200 will start shipping in Q2 2017 which is just around the corner.
DJI talk about the “Future of Possible” and they are certainly showing us exactly that.