DJI reveals its first beefy industrial worker-drone, the M200
Drones have gone from being a hobbyist’s toy to being a useful tool in a wide range of industries. They’re used for firefighting, surveying, checking on crops, and as we reported last week, even for cleaning power lines. It only makes sense then, that one of the big names in the industry, DJI, should start pushing towards making drones for more industrial applications. DJI feels that way too, which is why they just revealed their first enterprise drone at the Mobile World Congress.
The new drone, called the M200, has the controller and guts of the Inspire 2 and folds up to a compact size like the Mavic Pro, but also sets itself apart in a big way. It’s large, designed for being hauled around in a pick-up truck, and engineered to conduct search and rescue missions, cell tower inspections, and everything in between. Its only permanently attached camera is a front-facing lens that streams video to the pilot at all times. On the bottom, there’s a gimbal mount where you can attach more cameras and devices. On the more advanced M210 and M210 RTK models, there’s also space for two more cameras in front and one on top. The top camera is a DJI first and is meant for bridge inspections, so the drone can fly in underneath and look up at the infrastructure.
Obstacle avoidance and flight planning is becoming commonplace in drones, but the M200 has a special trick up its sleeve here, too: An ADS-B module. ADS-B, which stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Broadcast, is a system used in most aircraft today which helps share their location with other nearby aircraft and communicate with them to avoid collisions. The drone’s version of this system is called AirSense, and while it doesn’t actually broadcast its location to nearby planes and helicopters, it does receive their signals so the drone won’t accidentally wind up in someone’s rotor blades.
The M200 has a flight time of about 35 minutes with batteries that can be quickly hot-swapped. It also features an IP43 certification, meaning that while it won’t survive a hurricane, it can certainly hold its own in the rain. DJI hasn’t revealed a price yet, but they have said that it will be their most expensive drone to date and will go on sale in the second quarter of this year.