Entertainment Huge DJI Avata drone leaks still leave us with one big mystery
Huge DJI Avata drone leaks still leave us with one big mystery
Thanks to a barrage of new leaks, DJI’s incoming Avata drone has now been almost completely revealed. Yet aside from a few small details, one big question remains unanswered – who exactly is DJI’s mini FPV (first person view) drone going to be for?
The Avata is, it’s now pretty clear, a small ‘cinewhoop’ version of its current DJI FPV drone. A leaked image of the Avata’s box from @DealsDrone (opens in new tab) shows it’ll promise an “immersive flight experience”, thanks to its new DJI Goggles 2 headset, plus “4K stabilized video”, a “palm-sized and agile” build, compatibility with a “motion controller” and “HD low-latency transmission”.
That all sounds like a lot of fun. But as a leaked video shared by @OsitaLV (opens in new tab) shows, the Avata will still be constrained by the usual restrictions on FPV drones – and many of these are similar to the ones that have held back VR headsets from becoming mainstream.
looks like Avata has somatosensory support, and it was really under KOL’s evaluation pic.twitter.com/PLnhPbkpYaAugust 6, 2022
As the video above shows, because the pilot is wearing a headset, they can’t keep the drone in line of sight outdoors – which means they must legally always have a ‘spotter’ alongside them when flying. And as we noted in our DJI FPV review, you also need to take a great amount of care when flying these drones, as the obstacle-avoidance sensors usually only alert you to dangers, rather than automatically stopping the drone like DJI’s Mavic series.
While it isn’t yet clear what obstacle avoidance skills the Avata will have, it is expected to be an indoor-friendly drone. This explains its ‘cinewhoop’ design, which includes guards around its 3-inch propellors. And this indoor friendliness could help make the Avata more approachable than the DJI FPV.
Feature of DJI AVATA：Immersive Flight ExperienceMotion Controller4K Stabilized VideoPalm-Sized and AgileBuilt-in Propeller GuardHD Low-Latency Transmission pic.twitter.com/PMkYODFvSFAugust 8, 2022
This is because in many regions, including the US and UK, drone laws only cover outdoor flights because indoor ones don’t affect other aircraft. This would mean that, in indoor settings, pilots would only need to follow the health and safety regulations of the building.
But the fundamental question remains – how many people need an indoor FPV drone, or a small outdoor one that’s likely less powerful than DJI’s current FPV drone?
Unexpected flying object
DJI clearly knows its audience, so we’re looking forward to seeing it answer these questions when the DJI Avata inevitably launches very soon.
The company’s broader aim appears to be bringing professional cinematography tools to a wider audience – and in this sense, the DJI Avata could be its attempt to help all kinds of filmmakers shoot the kinds of spectacular FPV drone videos (like Tesla’s Giga Factory tour (opens in new tab)) that have gone viral in recent years.
The problem, and the one we’re still unsure the DJI Avata will be able to solve, is that those kinds of videos demand some high-level flying skills that take years to develop. The Avata seems likely to be hailed as an FPV drone for beginners, but what’s made DJI’s other drones so good for novices is their automated flying modes – something that makes far less sense on an FPV drone.
Oh, hello #DJI #Avata pic.twitter.com/gzpE5LrY0uAugust 6, 2022
The recent Snap Pixy attempted to solve some of these issues with automated modes like Hyperspeed or Jump Cut, plus subject-tracking skills. But that pocket drone also forgets to include a half-decent camera or battery, and so far the DJI Avata leaks suggest it’s aiming more at FPV enthusiasts than those who want a point-and-shoot FPV camera.
With Avata’s leaked box suggesting it’ll come with a Goggles 2 headset and a motion controller, it’s unlikely to come cheap – even if it should dip under the DJI FPV’s launch price of $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,099. And the apparent inclusion of DJI Airsense tech (an alert system that tells pilots when other aircraft are flying nearby) suggests the Avata will be at least as much of an outdoor drone as an indoor one. Its expected 500g weight also means that, unlike the DJI Mini 3 Pro, it would need to be registered in most regions.
Still, given the number of leaks we’ve seen in recent days, this fundamental Avata mystery should be solved sometime this month. Whether or not it makes the FPV drone a flying camera that’s ripe for a mainstream audience is another matter.