DJI has announced its first drone for 2021. This is the DJI FPV, a hybrid racing drone that borrows the best of the camera drone world and combines it with the thrill of a racing drone.
The DJI FPV is not your typical DJI drone. It still offers a flight mode that is as stable and hands-off as a typical Mavic drone, but you can engage full manual mode for those that like the hands-on approach to piloting a drone.
DJI FPV is a unique machine
The DJI FPV is about the size of a Mavic drone and a little bit taller. The propeller arms do not fold. Otherwise, DJI opted for a three-blade propeller on the FPV — a much more powerful design, but also much noisier. When you look a bit closer, you’ll see a single-axis camera gimbal that that’s hauling a 4K camera that shoots 60fps. The gimbal itself is also a treat, as it can point a long way up, not just down and forward like many other camera drones.
87 mph, and 0-60 mph in 2 seconds. It's fast.
As the DJI FPV is a hybrid racing drone, it must go fast, right? Sure does, clocking in at about 87mph in full manual mode.
True to the name, the DJI FPV focuses on the FPV experience. The single-axis camera gimbal is there for a reason, providing a more realistic view when your head is inside the included DJI FPV Goggles V2 — a VR headset.
True to the hybrid claims, this drone offers three main flight modes. N mode is the typical GPS-enabled camera drone experience that Mavic drone pilots are accustomed to. S mode is more of a sport mode and includes some extra tilt in the drone, a way to begin to familiarize yourself with the totally different way that racing pilots handle their machines.
Finally, M mode is where things get crazy. If you’ve only ever flown a DJI Mavic or Phantom drone, I almost guarantee you will instantly crash the DJI FPV in full manual mode. The joysticks on the remote for a camera drone basically tell the drone where to be in the sky by GPS coordinates. The sticks on a racing drone don’t care about coordinates; you’re now just controlling the tilt of the drone. The drone doesn’t return to center. If you tilt it to the left, it’ll stay that way until you tilt it back.
Related reading: The best drones you can buy in 2021
This is where the DJI FPV comes into play. Even in M mode, there are provisions to set your drone back to an auto hover or engage the return to home feature to bring your drone back in for a safe landing. The racing community would call this cheating, but I’d prefer to cheat and not lose my new drone.
N mode tops out at about 32mph, S mode jumps up to 60mph, and M mode rockets to 87mph. That’s nearly double the fastest Mavic drone.
DJI Motion Controller
Another cool things launched along with the DJI FPV is a new Motion Controller. This is a one-handed controller, enabling an uncomplicated way to fly your new drone. It’s locked to the DJI FPV for now, but we’re hoping it will connect to other drones in the future.
Like the drone itself, the Motion Controller is not provide typical operation. With a normal controller, you move the done forward, backward, left, and right using the right stick, then spin the drone and go up or down with the left stick. On the Motion Controller, you tilt the controller itself left or right to spin the drone, tilting up and down changes the angle of attack (which moves the nose up or down), and the trigger controls forward movement. That’s it.
If you are familiar with RC aircraft, you’ll notice that the Motion Controller makes the quadcopter act more like an airplane than a drone. That may sound weird, but I promise it’s more natural feeling inside the FPV Goggles.
Should I buy the DJI FPV?
The DJI FPV is a tough drone to categorize. Let’s be clear: if you want the best camera drone, this isn’t it. If you want to win a major drone race, this also isn’t the drone for you. If you want to learn how to fly, this machine is versatile and can teach you many things. However, it only has forward and downward obstacle avoidance when flying it as a camera drone, and perhaps you should go for a less expensive machine for your first crash, or your fiftieth crash, because racing drones be like that.
If you have experienced drone flight before, and enjoy the thrill of actually piloting your craft, you’re going to love the DJI FPV. We are referring to it as the motorcycle in DJI’s fleet of drones. It’s not the most practical for most purposes, but it sure is fast and exhilarating to operate.
Stay tuned for more coverage! We have a review inbound, and we have plenty more to say about the DJI FPV over on Drone Rush.