Touting it as the most portable drone it has ever created, DJI has officially unveiled its latest unmanned aircraft, the Mavic Air, featuring a 4K camera.
Designed for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts, the new drone inherits features of DJI’s Mavic series and weighs only 430 grams (just under 1 pound). With folding arms and propellers, the compact drone, when folded, is nearly the size of a smartphone, says DJI. Comparatively, DJI’s Spark, introduced last May, is palm-size and weighs 300 grams, while the Mavic Pro, rolled out in September 2016, weighs about 1.6 pounds, or the weight of a water bottle.
The Mavic Air photographs 12-megapixel still images by using new HDR algorithms that preserve more high- and low-light details. It also shoots stabilized 4K video at 30 fps, capturing the highest-quality video of any DJI consumer drone, with a maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps. It can also shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120 fps, says DJI. In addition, the drone’s recessed, three-axis mechanical gimbal is suspended from dampeners to further reduce vibration.
Mavic Air is DJI’s first drone with 8 GB of onboard storage, letting users save photos and video directly to the aircraft on the go. It also includes a microSD card slot for additional storage capacity and a new USB-C port for exporting captured footage more easily.
Photographers who want to capture their surroundings in complete detail can use the new Sphere panorama feature to automatically shoot and stitch together 25 photos, creating a 32-megapixel panoramic image within one minute. Mavic Air also supports multiple panorama modes, creating horizontal, vertical and 180-degree images.
QuickShot intelligent video modes include predefined flight paths that automatically keep a subject in the frame. Pilots can use Rocket, Dronie, Circle or Helix, plus two new modes, Asteroid and Boomerang. Asteroid starts with a spherical image that zooms in as it descends toward the subject on the ground, while Boomerang circles the subject in an oval-shaped flight path with the video finishing at the start point.
DJI says Mavic Air’s ActiveTrack intelligent flight mode has also been improved to automatically sense multiple subjects and keep a subject in the frame with more precision.
Powered by machine learning technology, SmartCapture allows users to give hand-gesture commands to launch, follow, photograph, record, push, pull and land the drone. From a maximum range of 20 feet, the feature allows users to capture a moment without using a remote controller (like the DJI Spark drone).
According to DJI, more powerful computing capabilities and optimized algorithms help Mavic Air fly more safely through obstacles and terrain. FlightAutonomy 2.0 processes data gathered from seven onboard cameras and infrared sensors to construct a 3D map of the environment for more precise hovering and better flight performance. The improved forward and backward dual camera vision systems can sense obstacles up to 66 feet away, says DJI. To help navigate through more complex outdoor environments, Mavic Air also has newly developed advanced pilot assistance systems, helping pilots avoid and bypass obstacles automatically.
The Mavic Air offers a flight time of up to 21 minutes; comparatively, the Mavic Pro and Spark boast 27 minutes and 16 minutes, respectively. In addition, DJI says the new drone can fly stably in windy conditions of up to 22 mph and at elevations of up to 16,404 feet above sea level.
Notably, the company says Mavic Air’s remote is the first of DJI’s to feature detachable control sticks that can be stored inside the remote controller for added portability. Its omnidirectional antennas placed on the foldable landing gear help increase signal coverage to deliver a maximum range of up to 2.5 miles with 1080p real-time video transmission when flying with the remote controller. When in sport mode, Mavic Air flies at speeds of up to 42 mph (68 kph) and is compatible with DJI Goggles for first-person-view flight.
Mavic Air will be available in three colors: onyx black, arctic white and flame red. The U.S. retail price for the drone, battery, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers is $799. Or, for $999, the Mavic Air Fly More Combo includes the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery-to-power-bank adapter and a battery charging hub.
Starting today, Mavic Air will be available for pre-order at store.dji.com, the four DJI flagship stores and authorized dealers. Pre-orders will start shipping on Jan. 28.
“When DJI introduced the Mavic Pro, it reinvented what a consumer drone could be: powerful, yet portable, accessible, but advanced,” says Roger Luo, president of DJI. “Today, with the introduction of Mavic Air, we have pushed these attributes to the next level to create our best consumer drone yet.”