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Government regulators have to be the bane of every tech company’s existence. Who needs a source when the FCC database is public? FPV and camera drone fans can get ready. DJI is jumping headfirst into the FPV drone business.
DJI has registered three FCC codes for an FPV drone unit, new googles, and remote control. Judging by the confidentiality status of codes – this includes photos, diagrams, etc. – DJI is launching sometime in August.
You’ll see each code has September 9 as the day the confidential notice lifts. Don’t read much into that date. It’s standard for the FCC to give 45 days if no time period is specified. Check the registration of the code date of July 25, add 45 days and we get to September 9. The only reason a company doesn’t specify a date is that the launch occurs before the 45-day clock runs out.
The FPV drone unit itself is 44mm(L) x 37.8mm(W) x 14.4mm(H). Note the width and the height will change with the addition of any folding components and props. The FCC report for the Mavic Air displayed this when its test report listed out the dimensions of the Mavic Air as 170mm x 95mm x 47mm.
That’s basically the same dimensions as the Air in its folded state. Give or take a millimeter here and there. Close enough for government work.
Inside the test report, the FCC considers the air unit and camera two separate modules. That’s important for two reasons, but both head into speculation territory. The dimensions of the camera are 27.4mm(L) x 21.1mm(W) x 20.1mm(H). DJI is not skimping on the camera.
Want a comparison? The Osmo Action is 65 x 42 x 35mm. Ditch the screens and housing, and that camera module fits with ease based on what the FCC tested. If you compare it to the DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal camera assembly, the size doesn’t quite match up. FPV drones don’t make use of gimbals and the stabilization software for either the Action or the GoPro show the gimbal isn’t a make or break component.
Could DJI pull a rabbit out of a hat and use a three-axis gimbal? Sure, but it’s adding unnecessary weight and cost. Cost pressures will be intense, and weight brings in a host of issues on battery life, range, and the fact DJI has hard-capped itself at 250 grams.
Anything past that weight will have AirSense installed as of January 2020. That commitment alone has camera drone announcements in a holding pattern to wait out the year.
DJI FPV Goggles
The other exciting bit out of the FCC codes are the new FPV goggles. DJI is already in this market with the Racing Edition, and the dimensions for it work out to 195 x 155 x 110 mm. The FCC test report has the goggles at 202mm x 110mm x 126mm.
Larger on the length, but not grossly so. The new FPV goggles trim down the width by nearly 30% which is where the bulk was in the current generation of DJI Goggles. The height gets an uptick in size. What does it equate to? DJI is hoping it equals increased sales. It’ll be interesting to see if the new goggles are compatible with the current Mavic lineup.
Why FPV and DJI?
A simple answer would be, why not? DJI has the technology and manufacturing capacity. It’s already dipped into the market with the DJI Goggle RE. Christmas is right around the corner, and the company can easily market these to kids and adults. On cost and features.
FPV drones also represent an exposed flank for DJI commercially. What does the company who singly dominates the camera drone market have to fear from the FPV community? Drone racing is increasingly popular. But there’s more to it thanks to some incredibly skilled pilots.
It’s not just racing anymore. Toss on a GoPro or even an Osmo Action, and you can get video and stills DJI’s current lineup of camera drones can only. Software, such as ReelSteady, has eliminated the GoPro shake.
FPV is commercial and more than cool flips and travel videos though Beniot Finck can fly the hell out of an FPV drone.
A couple of years ago, FPV was niche. But that’s changing and rapidly. It’s barrier to entry is lower than a Mavic 2 Pro on cost. Stabilization issues have been ironed out. Yes, the market size relative to traditional camera drones doesn’t match up. But ask camera manufacturers how they felt about the first few generations of smartphone cameras?
DJI created the camera drone market, but markets evolve. People take products from one category and apply them to another. So, when we are all clamoring for a Phantom 5, there are reasons why a company like DJI suddenly goes silent on its current slate of products in favor of launching into new market segments.
Take the Osmo Action. Can it dethrone GoPro? Possibly but that’s more of a bonus if it can. But you can be assured the technology behind it and the Osmo Pocket will make their way into the DJI FPV drone.
So the answer as to why make an FPV drone is part ‘why not’ and a recognition FPV has become more than a tiny niche market. And it’s time the company moved in as a participant.