Well, the FCC codes pointed towards an FPV system, and while not an actual drone, DJI is signaling it’s moving into the FPV market with authority.
Dubbed the DJI Digital FPV System, we get a look at tech from the company’s flagship camera drones into an FPV setup. The largest use case is in the drone racing community. But if you thought DJI would ignore the growing FPV filming community, today’s release puts that to bed permanently.
The opening shot of the marketing video shows where DJI thinks the market is heading:
Here are the quick details on the Digital FPV System, and then we will dive into the actual cost of getting you into the air.
DJI Digital FPV System Specs
The headline grabbers are the new goggles and air unit camera. DJI drops analog transmission in favor of digital, which promises latency of 28ms up to 4km away.
Yeah, that’s definitely a DJI product. It reminds me of the megapixel wars for digital cameras. Do you need a 4km range? No, but it’s damn cool.
DJI’s new FPV goggles can handle 720p at 120fps, while the air unit camera can deliver 1080p at 60fps. Both record to micro SD cards, though the goggles drop the framerate down to 60. If you lose your drone, you’ll have a backup video of the flight which should allow you to recover the drone.
Then there’s the broadcast mode which is perfect for televised drone racing events. Each air unit is equipped with eight frequency channels, allowing eight drones in the air at the same time without interference.
DJI is high on the new system and what it means for the racing and creative community:
“As drone racing grows in popularity, FPV racers are looking for the next technology to keep up with their demands. The new DJI FPV System was designed using our vast experience creating aerial and ground transmission systems and offers technology truly unique to the market,” said Ferdinand Wolf, Creative Director, DJI Europe. “As the only digital video transmission solution on the market that performs at the same level as analog, even surpassing it in some aspects, we hope to set a new standard for digital FPV.”
What Does a DJI FPV Drone Cost
If you’re already own an FPV drone, the cost breakdown is $819 for the DJI FPV Experience Combo. You get everything but the controller. Pilots wanting it can opt for the FPV Fly More Combo which includes the controller for $929.
What about beginners looking to get into the air. Here’s where the cost starts edging past $1000. On the DJI FPV splash page, you’ll see DJI recommend a variety of accessories for drone racing. It includes motors, FPV frame, T-Motor F55A PRO II, and props.
Let’s work off the premise you’re new to FPV drones and want to get started from nothing. You’ll want the Fly More Combo at $929. That will get the goggles, air unit camera, and remote control. Now, you’ll need the rest. Sticking with the options DJI recommends comes out like this:
LASER HD FPV Frame = $69
T-Motor Propellers = $3
It brings the total for a complete DJI FPV drone to $1280.
Why DJI isn’t Releasing an FPV Drone
The DJI Digital FPV System lays the groundwork for a complete FPV drone from the company, but not right now. DJI has signaled every drone weighing 250 grams or more manufactured after January 1, 2020, will include AirSense tech to allow drones to receive ADS-B signals from nearby aircraft.
If the company released its own FPV drone, the 250-gram hard cap would have been breached. DJI is known for splashy drone launches. Releasing a new drone at this point creates a setup where the company’s latest product isn’t compliant with standards it has set.
So, we get the FPV System over an actual FPV drone. It’s a smart play. DJI jumps into a growing market and receives the splashy headlines. Meanwhile, the company offers the recommendations of the parts you need to get off the ground while maintaining its safety commitments to introduce AirSense in 2020. Well played.