DJI unveils Phantom 4 drone with obstacle avoidance, new Apple partnership

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2016
Chinese drone maker DJI on Tuesday took the covers off its its latest camera drone, a $1,399 aerial photography platform that comes with a faster top speed, longer flight duration, and a new obstacle avoidance system to make piloting easier.




According to DJI, the "Obstacle Sensing System" uses two sensors on the drone's front fascia to detect objects in the flight path. If anything is found -- from 0.7 to 15 meters away -- the system will automatically reroute the drone to avoid it.

Top speed has been increased to 20 meters per second in "sport mode," up from 16 meters per second for the Phantom 3. Flight time is bumped to 28 minutes, and the camera now supports 1080p slow-motion video at 120 frames per second.




New apps are also in the offing, including one that lets pilots simply tap on a location and have the drone fly automatically to it. Another feature, which the company calls ActiveTrack, allows users to select an object in the camera's view that the Phantom 4 will then follow autonomously, using the obstacle sensors and DJI's existing vision positioning system.

The Phantom 4 will be available on Apple's online store later today, making its way to brick-and-mortar locations on March 15. It will be an Apple Store exclusive until March 23.



Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    fotoformatfotoformat Posts: 281member
    "...a new obstacle avoidance system..." LOL... and we all now know Google's smart car reversing at a snail's pace couldn't even avoid a huge bus!
    tallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 17
    bobjohnsonbobjohnson Posts: 154member
    "...a new obstacle avoidance system..." LOL... and we all now know Google's smart car reversing at a snail's pace couldn't even avoid a huge bus!

    1 accident per 1.2 million driven miles -- how's your record?
    maxxe2
  • Reply 3 of 17
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)

    I suppose it's too much to hope that they produce an add-on sensor kit for obstacle avoidance for the Phantom 3 series, but i do hope they'll add some of the new software-only features to the Phantom 3 in a  future firmware update.

    I'm surprised this Phantom 4 does not include a 4K camera (unless it actually does and was just not mentioned in this article.)
  • Reply 4 of 17
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 879member

    Another feature, which the company calls ActiveTrack, allows users to select an object in the camera's view that the Phantom 4 will then follow autonomously, using the obstacle sensors and DJI's existing vision positioning system.

    This feature is sorely needed. The Airdog and Lily drones are serious cheaper competitors with a feature like this and it has a market with some of the powersports, skiing, and bicycling groups.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 879member

    tenly said:
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)
    Care to elaborate on this? To me hydro lines connotes water lines and I can't imagine a drone wrecking itself on a water line. Hydro line sounds like a term not used in the USA.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    fotoformatfotoformat Posts: 281member
    "...a new obstacle avoidance system..." LOL... and we all now know Google's smart car reversing at a snail's pace couldn't even avoid a huge bus!

    1 accident per 1.2 million driven miles -- how's your record?
    A good point, but moot in my case... I sold my last vehicle (VW Combi) over five years ago and now walk and cycle (fixie bike) everywhere I need to go to stay fitter. However, I haven't had any endorsements on my driving licence since 1980, so up to when I sold my car I had 30 years without an accident nor speeding ticket. Mind you... I'd hate to drive a car in a city nowadays!
  • Reply 7 of 17
    bobjohnsonbobjohnson Posts: 154member
    linkman said:

    tenly said:
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)
    Care to elaborate on this? To me hydro lines connotes water lines and I can't imagine a drone wrecking itself on a water line. Hydro line sounds like a term not used in the USA.
    I'm not OP but I assume he means transmission lines coming from a hydroelectric plant.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    1 accident per 1.2 million driven miles -- how's your record?
    Better than that.

    The point is that a single GPS satellite failure (since there aren’t any redundancies anymore) will endanger anyone who uses these vehicles, and there will be no way for them to regain control (since they won’t even have manual controls). Never mind people who are now stranded somewhere because their vehicles wouldn’t start up.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    bobjohnsonbobjohnson Posts: 154member
    1 accident per 1.2 million driven miles -- how's your record?
    Better than that.

    The point is that a single GPS satellite failure (since there aren’t any redundancies anymore) will endanger anyone who uses these vehicles, and there will be no way for them to regain control (since they won’t even have manual controls). Never mind people who are now stranded somewhere because their vehicles wouldn’t start up.

    If you're seriously telling me you have never, ever tapped/bumped/slightly nudged anything with your car in 1.2 million miles, then you should clearly be a professional racing driver.

    Also, autonomous vehicles do not rely on GPS, because it's phenomenally inaccurate in most urban environments (or under trees, in tunnels...). The onboard computer stores high-resolution maps locally, and they are continuously scanning their surroundings with LiDAR and visual cameras to reconcile what they see with what they're supposed to see. Contrary to apparently popular belief, the people building these things aren't idiots.
    nolamacguymaxxe2
  • Reply 10 of 17
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    If you're seriously telling me you have never, ever tapped/bumped/slightly nudged anything with your car in 1.2 million miles, then you should clearly be a professional racing driver.
    Not that I don’t like speed, but I don’t like to go fast, myself.  :|
    Also, autonomous vehicles do not rely on GPS, because it's phenomenally inaccurate in most urban environments (or under trees, in tunnels...). The onboard computer stores high-resolution maps locally, and they are continuously scanning their surroundings with LiDAR and visual cameras to reconcile what they see with what they're supposed to see.
    Oh, I know they’re not solely reliant on it, but isn’t the LiDAR still notoriously inaccurate?

    As for the local maps, fucking FINALLY. I understand that back in the day when storage was still expensive that a downlink was necessary, but we’re getting to the point now that storage is cheap enough that everything can be local and just updated as needed. 
  • Reply 11 of 17
    bobjohnsonbobjohnson Posts: 154member
    If you're seriously telling me you have never, ever tapped/bumped/slightly nudged anything with your car in 1.2 million miles, then you should clearly be a professional racing driver.

    Oh, I know they’re not solely reliant on it, but isn’t the LiDAR still notoriously inaccurate?


    LiDAR in this context approaches sub-centimeter accuracy. They're collecting >1M points per ~1 second.
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 12 of 17
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    linkman said:

    tenly said:
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)
    Care to elaborate on this? To me hydro lines connotes water lines and I can't imagine a drone wrecking itself on a water line. Hydro line sounds like a term not used in the USA.
    As the other poster guessed, I meant the power transmission lines owned by Ontario Hydro (the local power company).  I was trying to fly responsibly in a non-built up area (transmission corridor) high enough to avoid obstacles but low enough to not distract aircraft - but apparently those transmission lines are higher than I thought!  I clipped one and dropped like a rock.  There was remarkable little damage to the drone itself - but the metal bracket that attaches the gimbal to the frame snapped in half.  It's part of the camera assembly and the only way to fix it was to replace the entire camera assembly.


    edited March 2016
  • Reply 13 of 17
    isidoreisidore Posts: 47member
    linkman said:

    Care to elaborate on this? To me hydro lines connotes water lines and I can't imagine a drone wrecking itself on a water line. Hydro line sounds like a term not used in the USA.
    I'm not OP but I assume he means transmission lines coming from a hydroelectric plant.
    Maybe he lives in British Columbia? The electricity generator is BC Hydro, hence Hydro lines......
  • Reply 14 of 17
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,113member
    tenly said:
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)

    I suppose it's too much to hope that they produce an add-on sensor kit for obstacle avoidance for the Phantom 3 series, but i do hope they'll add some of the new software-only features to the Phantom 3 in a  future firmware update.

    I'm surprised this Phantom 4 does not include a 4K camera (unless it actually does and was just not mentioned in this article.)
    The new Phantom 4 does have a 4K camera. The new features are really cool. One that's not mentioned here is upgraded stability. There are 2 cameras and 2 ultrasonic sensors on the belly. DJI says 5 times as good at the drone holding its position compared to the Phantom 3. This feature sounds really cool. I just copied it from another article:

    The second new autonomous feature, ActiveTrack, is even more impressive. Trace a circle around a subject you want to keep it in frame: a runner, race car, or mountain bike. The Phantom’s onboard computer builds a 3D model of that subject and then automatically tracks to keep it in frame. The pilot can use the remote to make fine-grained adjustments to the focus, framing or camera settings, or they can just sit back and let the drone do all the work.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    tenly said:
    An obstacle avoidance system on my phantom 3 could have saved me $500!  (Stupid hydro lines!)

    I suppose it's too much to hope that they produce an add-on sensor kit for obstacle avoidance for the Phantom 3 series, but i do hope they'll add some of the new software-only features to the Phantom 3 in a  future firmware update.

    I'm surprised this Phantom 4 does not include a 4K camera (unless it actually does and was just not mentioned in this article.)
    The new Phantom 4 does have a 4K camera. The new features are really cool. One that's not mentioned here is upgraded stability. There are 2 cameras and 2 ultrasonic sensors on the belly. DJI says 5 times as good at the drone holding its position compared to the Phantom 3. This feature sounds really cool. I just copied it from another article:

    The second new autonomous feature, ActiveTrack, is even more impressive. Trace a circle around a subject you want to keep it in frame: a runner, race car, or mountain bike. The Phantom’s onboard computer builds a 3D model of that subject and then automatically tracks to keep it in frame. The pilot can use the remote to make fine-grained adjustments to the focus, framing or camera settings, or they can just sit back and let the drone do all the work.
    Amazing!!!  I am soooooo tempted to buy one - but while I was waiting for DJI to repair my first Phantom 3 Advanced, I purchased a second one to use - so I currently have 2 fully functional Phantom 3 Advanced drones that I have probably flown for less than 15 combined hours.  It's hard to justify walking away from them and spending another $1500 plus accessories.  

    I dont suppose the P4 uses the same batteries as the P3?  28 minutes flight time is really tempting.  Does it use Lightbridge?  Have the same 2km range as the P3A?
  • Reply 16 of 17
    cjcampbellcjcampbell Posts: 107member
    "...a new obstacle avoidance system..." LOL... and we all now know Google's smart car reversing at a snail's pace couldn't even avoid a huge bus!

    1 accident per 1.2 million driven miles -- how's your record?
    Actually, two dozen accidents -- much higher than the human rate. Google claims that none of the accidents are their fault, which seems irresponsible considering that their accident rate is so high. They're doing something wrong or it wouldn't be that bad.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 749member
    DJI is the new goPro.  goPro is really doomed.™ Am I the only person that is flabbergasted by the amount of technology crammed in these things?.  I want an autonomous one patrolling my house when I am not around.

    At the rate these things are progressing, I will have to wait another two years.
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