DJI has today unleashed its first ever ultra-fast, high-definition racing FPV drone – the FPV standing for "first person view".
The DJI FPV Combo marks the dominant drone manufacturer's first foray into the increasingly popular world of racing drones. The Drone Racing League has made quite an impression on TV, and skilled electronics enthusiasts have been tweaking their racing and acro quadcopters (or ‘quads’, as they prefer) for years, but it’s a tough world to get into.
• Read more: DJI FPV Combo review
In this world, 80 mph (128kph) is a fairly ordinary speed for the racers – and the controls are all manual. Until now DJI has sold quality goggles and cameras for this community, but left the pilots to literally build their own drones.
Today the FPV Combo has changed all that, putting a 4K 60fps (or 1080p 120fps) camera on a gimbal at the front of a distinctly racing-ready quad, which is actually designed to be charging forward into the air at almost 45˚. It is powered by a whopping 6S battery (22V) and lit by LEDs that can switch tone to match the operator’s mood.
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Despite ticking off much of the racing community’s list of essentials, DJI has also managed to squeeze in tech that you’d usually find on its easy-to-fly photography drones. This includes GPS hover and return-to-home, collision sensors and the necessary sensors and software meaning that, when the pilot is not actively directing the drone, it sits back and hovers in the air.
Racing-friendly features include automatic replay of the last 30 seconds flight in the goggles, and a remotely-triggered beeping to help you find the drone if you crash at an event.
The DJI FPV Combo has swappable hulls (and includes a luminous yellow alternative in the box), image stabilization, automatic record on takeoff, distortion and roll correction options, changeable head-up-displays and plenty more options in the settings menu. Pilots can opt between coordinated turn (S) mode and (M).
DJI has considered newcomers to the VR-like FPV flying style in its design, setting the system up so that the safety sensors and hover are enabled by default – but more experienced users can switch to full manual mode if they want. Software updates and tutorials can be downloaded via the DJI Fly app.
The manufacturer has also taken the opportunity to offer an alternative way to operate the drone, the Motion Controller, which is a kind of wand that you tilt to direct the drone. It sports a whopping accelerator lever like a trigger, and brake button for the thumb, and might tempt a whole new generation. The Motion Controller is available for an extra $199 / £139 / AU$229.
With a range of up to 10km in the US (or 6km in the UK / EU) and a flight time of up to 20 minutes, the drone offers the kind of range and reliability normally associated with drones built more around their video. The camera features a 1/2.3” image sensor that provides up to 150˚ field of view with auto or manual settings accessed via the FPV goggles.
The DJI FPV Combo, including standard controller, charger, and goggles is available for $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,099 from today, and is intended for pilots at least 16 years old.
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