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DJI Systems Introduces Inspire 1 Drone (dji.com)
39 points by gorans on Nov 13, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

Wow so many sick features... No wonder they haven't been picking up the customer service lines, or wait DJI customer service policy is simply not to reply. Never mind...

The product looks insane. Price point too.. Similar systems today cost 30K.

The problem with DJI is the generic firmware. I am still running old firmware because of all the crashes and complaints they have dramatically reduced performance / angle of attack, etc with each release.

I don't understand their consumer segments. Who is this product targeted for?

For amateurs, it's rather expensive compared to the other DJI options out there. Especially if you already have a GoPro.

If you're a pro, you probably opt for something more customizable. You want a camera that you can get a great footage out and there is a nice and commonly understood post-processing and grading option available and not use some propriety camera.

So I think real pros would spend a bit more and attach their existing camera (GH4, Canon 5D III, etc.) system that they are familiar with to a large drone or if they want a smaller drone they'll go with the LX100 or some one of many Sony offering (if they don't need 4K)

Why not somewhere in between? Ignoring bans on commercial drone usage for the moment, I could see this working well for, say, a realty agency or a local news-gathering team. Really any small organization that has an obvious path from aerial photography to more revenue, can afford this, but can't afford and doesn't have individuals who are dedicated to UAV configuration and piloting.

That said, a non-Vision Phantom with a gimbal and a GoPro can probably also get satisfactory results for those same customers. Still, the price wouldn't be significantly less, and the Inspire 1 has a full 360 gimbal with yaw and separate camera controls (which is huge), seems to have more flight control features (last I checked, Phantoms didn't support waypoint navigation), and might have better video quality than a GoPro.

My phantom 2 vision supports 16 waypoints via the recent update to the iphone app.

I believe it's targeted at the prosumer. The group that has grown out of the entry level DJI equipment, but don't want to take the giant leap to their fully customisable range.

This looks amazing however $2800 price tag is way up there for all but real or may be semi-professionals. It can fly to almost 15,000 feet which is just amazing considering that's where private small plane airspace is. In other words, you no longer have to rent a plane or helicopter to get that cool aerial shot of New York's Center Park or SF's Golden Gate bridge. Flight time is 18 mins which is also slightly higher.

It would have been nicer if they had clear "follow me" feature. Even better would be one-touch pre-programmed flight pattern. I can imagine myself sitting on a summit of a hike or ski resort or beach and doing one-touch pre-programmed cinematic flight path to get that super-cool gimble stabilized video that makes a circle around me.

$2800 is the price of a decent DSLR with lens. Sure, if you use it once and then leave it to gather dust it's expensive, but it's otherwise very affordable even for the mere dedicated hobbyist.

actually a bunch of uavs can fly 15,000 ft. Most of them can.

What's nice is the way they do 360d view, the 6s, the low drag, the smaller camera (setups with gopro - which is 4k too - or bigger are quite .. massive).. and they also seem to be catching up to the APM/Pixhawk on the software side. Also, lightbridge/HD.

Now price, non-opensource, etc.. of course. Still a nice piece of hardware.

One really neat feature I see on this build vs. a (much) cheaper DIY Pixhawk-or-alike based build is optical flow.

As far as I know both PX4 and APM have half-baked optical flow code in various branches, but no out-of-the-box / off-the-shelf support in mainline (even though 3DR sell optical flow hardware).

Knowing DJI's past I'm not sure their integration is much better, but if it is, that's a big win IMO. Optical flow is awesome for new pilots as it makes the quadcopter's position hold ability in hover much more stable. It's one of the main reasons the AR.Drone works so well despite its relatively imprecise / high-latency phone-based control interface.

As a private pilot, not sure I'd want these things up at 15,000ft w/o a transponder and radio. Sounds like disaster waiting to happen...

There are birds heavier than these, and planes usually handle bird strikes quite well.

Actually, Relatively small birds have been known to penetrate the windshield of a Cessna and injure the pilot or even wreck the engine of a single engine of a jet like a BAE Hawk.

See video of a Canadian CT-155 Hawk (Not F-16 as titled) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN_Zl64OQEw

For an airliner like an Airbus A320, a small bird can damage the engine fan blades and require an expensive repair. If the bird goes through the core even minor damage becomes very expensive to fix.

I don't think it's so much the weight but the material.

Sharp metal and plastic edges are way more likely to shatter glass than a puny piece of flesh.

These can't be flown at 15,000 feet legally (in the US) without a special FAA civilian UAS license. Without such a license you can fly them under 400 feet using the model aircraft rules but going over 400 feet is not allowed sans license.

DJI's Phantom quadcopters (with newest firmware) enforce the 400 foot ceiling in software, not sure what their plans are with this one since it is being marketed as much more pro-sumer than than the Phantom line, but if Joe Schmoe Parkflyer flies one of these above 400 feet he is violating FAA regulations and theoretically could be charged large fines currently.

Regarding the 400ft limit in software: Has it got some sort of radar altimeter or does it just assume the launch point is the ground and will not travel 400ft above that?

It has GPS and knows when it is getting into restricted airspace. In addition to Lat and Long, GPS also gives altitude above sea level. You couldn't launch a Phantom from the top of a highrise and think you are cheating the system.

Are you sure about that? I mean, it still needs to know the starting altitude to calculate the difference. Unless this limit is above the sea level which I somehow doubt. As an engineer, I'm interested how did they manage to solve this problem.

Since the Phantom's flight controller is closed source, this is speculation but I assume it calculates it based on the altitude delta from "home".

When you turn the Phantom on one of the first things it does is tries to get a GPS lock on its current position which it will use as the "home" point. This is a pretty important piece of data for the device to have (and the bright LEDs on the arms will light up red until it has it, warning you that taking off is dangerous) because if it goes into "return to home" failsafe for any reason (loss of connection to the controller, battery low situation, etc) the device will attempt to fly itself to that position (after first ascending to a programmable return-to-home altitude if needed to minimize risk of hitting obstacles like trees or houses).

The controller on the Phantoms also has a barometer which can be used for (relative) altitude change readings. I have no idea if it uses that at all in the 400 foot ceiling calculations.

It is extremely doubtful that the Phantom carries any sort of WGS 84 to local height mapping because that is a ridiculous amount of data (even at a fairly low resolution) to carry for the entire globe, and it has no link to any kind of lookup service for that, and if you based the height on sea level that would make the device pretty worthless in many places (eg. Denver which is more than 13 times higher than 400 feet above sea level at ground level).

2800$? It says 3399$ on my page. I wonder if the price increased suddenly or it's location based?

It defaults to the double controller model which is the higher price. Switch to the single controller option for the lower price.

does it advertise 15000 feet somewhere? Can't find it on the website. I find this rather dubious, since it would take at least an hour to climb to that height.

Looks very impressive!

I'm waiting to see some more real-world feedback as the Inspire 1 gets into the hands of more people. I can see myself seriously considering purchasing one... even without a very specific need at the moment (I consider myself more of a photo/video hobbyist than anything). Still, a part of me feels like there must be some kind of dealbreaker/issue that just hasn't come to light yet. I wonder how the camera compares to other options in the price range - not just in specs, but in actual image quality, dynamic range, color reproduction, etc.

The one thing that would make me more confident in buying one (other than a better reputation for DJI's support) would be some kind of statement (either from DJI or from customers' experience) of compatibility with GoPro.

Also, is anyone else annoyed that they don't stop the background video when you click to view the product video? Even on a new Macbook Pro, I get choppy video with both of them competing for resources. Even if it did play smoothly on my hardware, the background video is very distracting when you're watching the product video in a lightbox. Of course, clicking the YouTube link and watching in another tab worked better, but still..

I dont like DJI too much but i've to admit the design and integrated features are getting pretty good.

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