NEW YORK CITY — Even as the world of available public drone fly space shrinks, DJI continues to innovate, hoping to find new ways to attract drone customers and encourage them to fly — even indoors.
The small, smart, foldable Mavic Pro, which DJI unveiled on Tuesday, is the company’s latest siren song to the drone curious.
It cuts away at least one layer of the complexity that might have kept the drone-shy at bay: no more attaching the propeller blades. Instead, the Mavic Pro folds up neatly, propellers and all, and fits inside a backpack.
Usually smaller means less, at least less technology. But DJI went in the other direction, packing the Mavic Pro with capabilities usually reserved for larger, even pro-sumer drones.
“Everything you saw in the Phantom 4 is jam-packed into this Mavic,” said a DJI executive.
The Mavic Pro comes with a 3-axis gimbal, that carries a 12MP, 4K-ready custom-built camera. It has built in GPS and GLOSNASS for navigation, but, according to DJI, the drone can chart its own path, even without a GPS assist. The company calls this new technology FlightAutonomy, which uses a pair of built-in ultrasonic range finders to build a 3D map of its surroundings, allowing it to fly at up to 22 mph to its destination without slamming into obstacles.
Without FlightAutonomy turned on, the drone is rated by DJI — in sport mode — to fly at up to 40 mph.
Perhaps most significantly, the smaller size does not, according to the company, result in reduced flight time. DJI promises the Mavic Pro will stay up in the air for up to 27 minutes.
This is also the first DJI drone with the ability (or at least okay) to operate indoors. A new Tripod mode, which basically slows down the flight and response, offers more precise, confined-space control.
Like other DJI drones, the Mavic Pro can work with the company’s smart-phone-based controller, but it also ships with a new all-black remote control that can operate with or without an attached smartphone. The phone holders actually fold into the body of the remote to even further save space.
Intelligence and cool views
The Mavic Drone’s vision system also responds to gesture control, when in Gesture Mode. During the unveiling, a DJI executive launched the drone, made a framing gesture with his two hands and the Mavic Pro took a selfie (we could tell by the rapidly-blinking lights on the front of the drone), which the exec said could be shared directly to social media. He was also able to wave with both arms at the drone to get it to pay attention to and track him
There are also a collection of new intelligent Trace flight modes including Profile, which makes the drone fly along side of you while filming you. And, yes, the drone supports Facebook Live with the Dji Go app.
DJI also introduce new DJI Goggles, a large, white 1080p HD headset that lets you see what the drone sees in a more immersive experience. DJI did not announce pricing or availability for the headset.
To hammer home the idea of the Mavic Pro’s unusual size, DJI brought up Youtube star iJustine to show how she used the Mavic pro and even carried it in her purse.
Honestly, the size is impressive. Shortly after the presentation, DJI, let us get up close with the new Mavic Pro. When folded, it fits in one of my hands. Unfolded and it’s considerably smaller and lighter than one of DJI’s Phantom drones
The drone alone will sell for $749 and $999 with the new controller. DJI will also offer a pro pack that includes the drone, controller, shoulder carrying case, extra batteries and propellers for $1,299.
The Mavic Pro goes on pre-order on September 27 and ships October 15.