Where did we come from?
Camera drones have evolved so much in the past few years. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to recap before talking about the Mavic. First we started off with RC helicopters. They were dangerous, loud, extremely hard to fly, needed a lot of maintenance and were super expensive. After that we moved on to DIY drones. They were definitely a better solution than RC helicopters, but it wasn’t easy to build one without experience and flight time was never very good. Now we have consumer camera drones like the Phantom 4 which fly great and are pretty easy to use, but there’s still room for improvement.
What’s next for camera drones?
In the longterm future, drones will be completely aware of their surroundings. you’ll be able to toss them in the sky in almost any situation and not have to worry about flying. Right now, computers with the processing power fast enough to do this are just not small enough to fit into consumer drones. Until then, innovation in the industry must go on, so what’s next in the near future?
Based on what DJI and others are releasing in the next few weeks, It seems like miniaturization is going to be the next big change in the industry. We’ve already seen this happen with other forms of technology like computers and phones. The smaller and easier something is to use, the more people will use it. After all, the best drone on the planet isn’t going to help capture that amazing moment if you were too lazy to bring it with, or couldn’t get it in the air fast enough.
Smartdrones Are The Future
I think there’s a new wave of drones coming called smartdrones. Just like smartphones, smartdrones are extremely small, easy to use, packed with features and made to be taken everywhere.
The concept of small drones is far from new. After all, the most popular drones of all time are the toys you find on Amazon. These aren’t the kind of drones I’m talking about though. Toy drones from companies like Syma and Parrot are extremely portable but they lack any of the features from the larger camera drones that make them useful. In my opinion, the Parrot Bebop came pretty close to being a true smart drone, but it was plagued with many software and hardware issues that were never resolved. Most kickstarter projects have also promised smartdrones, but all of them have either failed or gotten stuck in the preorder stages. Even Yuneec recently came out with the Breeze, but the lack of a controller an a gimbal for stabilization means that video quality is going to suffer. This is where the Mavic comes in.
How Mavic Is Going To Change The Industry
The DJI Mavic is a drone that will be similar in size to the Phantom 4 when in flight, but much smaller when its time to pack up. The size when folded will be around 8x4x4 inches. The propellers will be foldable so you won’t have to worry about mounting them. The camera and gimbal will be tucked closer to the body so you can throw it into “any backpack” and not just one that’s designed for drones. Even the controller will hopefully be more compact. It needs to do all of these things, but at the same time keep all of the most important features of the Phantom. It still needs to have a good gimbal, shoot undistorted 4k video, get decent flight time and have a great user interface. In other words, the Mavic needs to be a great arial photography tool just like DJI’s other drones, but much smaller.
Shrinking technology is never easy, but I think once DJI releases the Mavic and other companies see how successful it is, every clone out there is going to be based off of the Mavic or something similar. Does this mean the Phantom will die? Probably not, but it will be interesting to see what features stay exclusive to the Phantom lineup and if they still plan on releasing a Phantom 5 next year.