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UPDATE: The Matrice 100 has been officially announced by dji. The original name was “Matrix”, but apparently they changed it to “Matrice”.
Before we go into the details, let me just say that this drone is not a Phantom 3 or inspire 1 replacement. From what I understand, the DJI Matrice 100 is a drone that gives people a relatively simple platform with the potential to do anything you can think of. It’s not just for aerial photography, agriculture, search and rescue or inspection. It was designed to be for whatever you can think of.
Expansion bays will allow you to add additional computing power, cameras, communication devices, sensors and more. The Matrice 100 will feature universal power and communication ports such as CAN bus and UART.
The Matrice 100 will use smart batteries similar to the Inspire 1. With the ability to instal two batteries at the same time, you should be able to achieve 40 minute flights. This would be great for long distance travel, or if you have a heavy payload that usually cuts your flight times in half. The batteries will also be able to be slid back and forth to adjust weight distribution.
For weight reduction and rigidity, the Matrice 100 is made from carbon fiber. The arms will have a new vibration dampening material that eliminates feedback from the motors, making everything on the craft stable and vibration free.
The remote will probably have a lot of the same electronics as the Inspire 1 remote, including Lightbridge, integrated GPS, 2Km range and DJI Pilot app support. It could also have more expansion ports like the Matrice 100 does.
DJI Guidance is a new array of positioning sensors that will allow real obstacle avoidance! From this leaked Photo, it appears to have 5 ultrasonic sensors and 10 cameras allowing the system to see with a 360 degree field of view).
Here are some leaked features for the Guidance system:
Guidance will continuously sense its nearby environment along with any obstacles or obstructions in real time. This will allow Guidance to take full control of the aircraft and avoid obstacles even at high speeds.
Hovering accuracy will be within centimeters (without GPS). Using stereoscopic image processing algorithms, the Guidance system will provide 3D position information over almost any terrain at any speed. The Guidance positioning system will also be capable of operating at an altitude of up to 65 feet, but other features like obstacle avoidance would still work at even higher altitudes.
Guidance will allow you to get all the most useful info out of the system to use for whatever you want. Additionally, Guidance will also be fully compatible with the DJI SDK. Using USB and UART, you’ll be able to export data like velocity, obstacle distances, grey‐scale images, IMU info, ultrasonic distances and depth images to whatever device you have for further processing.
With all of the advanced features and expandability of the Matrice 100, the only way of fully unlocking the potential of this platform is to have a software development kit. We don’t know much about the Matrice 100, but I can only assume that DJI is going to make all of the necessary aspects of the Matrice open source and keep most of the hardware closed with strict guidelines for their accessory bays (like how Apple does things).
This isn’t confirmed, but Drone retailers are saying that the Matrice 100 will start shipping on June 15th, while the Guidance accessory won’t be available until the end of June.
Pricing is also unknown for sure, but a website called UAV Outlet has it listed for $3000. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the real price, but don’t quote me on it. After adding additional sensors and accessories, I could easily see this drone costing about $5000, but you have to remember that this is not for the average consumer. In the future, businesses will likely buy the Matrice 100 along with other third party apps that will allow the drone to suit there specific needs without having to develop any hardware or software. There are some systems out there that can compete with the Matrice 100 in terms of functionality, like the senseFly eXom, but pricing for these highly specialized drones can reach $20,000 and above. In my opinion, having something that cost less than $5000 would be completely reasonable if the competition is already charging four times that amount.
When the Matrice 100 is officially announced, it will most likely be on DJI’s website.
A lot of people are probably asking themselves “why would DJI come out with such an advanced, expensive and generalized product?”. Developers, that’s why! While the Matrice 100 may be a surprise to most of you, SDK developers have been asking for a system like this since the beginning of the year.
Back in January, DJI sent out a questionnaire asking what they should do with the latest drone they’re working on. They asked questions like “what is your expected flight payload? What type of flight platform do you prefer? What will you use the flight platform for? How necessary is it for the aircraft to automatically detect and avoid obstacles?”. This basically confirms that the Matrice 100 is not something that DJI randomly decided to develop without a purpose.
To me, the most impressive feature of this drone is the Guidance accessory. If you would’ve asked me a week ago when we would see obstacle avoidance technology from DJI, I would’ve said 2016! Although I personally might not have a use for this drone, I’m interested to see what people do with this new platform and I’m curious about what features will eventually trickle down to DJI’s consumer products later on.
If DJI want’s to become a billon dollar company, creating a drone that can be used for any aerial application imaginable is definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe one day they’ll make FPV racing drones; that’s just my wish!
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