Thanks to a flurry of new leaks, the DJI Avata drone has been almost completely debunked. However, aside from a few small details, my big question remains unanswered – who exactly will DJI’s mini FPV drone be for?
The Avata is, by now quite clear, a small ‘cinewhoop’ version of their current DJI FPV drone. A leaked image of the Avatar box from @DealsDrone (opens in new tab) shows that promises an “immersive flight experience” thanks to its new DJI Goggles 2 headset, as well as “4K stabilized video”, a “palm-in-hand and agile” build, compatibility with a “motion controller” and ” HD low-latency transmission”.
Granted, this all sounds like a lot of fun. But as a leaked video shared by @OsitaLV (opens in new tab) shows, the Avata will still have all the usual restrictions on FPV (first person view) drones – and many of them are similar to the ones that braked the VR headsets that have become really popular.
looks like Avata has somatosensory support, and it was actually under KOL review pic.twitter.com/PLnhPbkpYaAugust 6, 2022
As the video above shows, because the pilot is wearing a headset, they cannot keep the drone in line of sight outdoors – meaning they must legally always have an ‘observer’ beside them when flying. This is a great misfortune for solo travelers to begin with.
Also, as we noted in our DJI FPV review, you also need to be very careful when flying FPV drones as obstacle avoidance sensors tend to only alert you to hazards rather than automatically stopping the drone like the Mavic. from the DJI Series.
While it’s not yet clear what obstacle avoidance abilities the Avatar will have, it’s expected to be an indoor-friendly drone. This explains its ‘cinewhoop’ design, which includes guards around its 3-inch propellers. And to be fair, this built-in ease of use can help make the Avata more accessible than the DJI FPV.
DJI AVATA Feature：Immersive Flight ExperienceMotion Controller4K Stabilized VideoPalm-Size and AgileBuilt-in Propeller GuardHD Low Latency Streaming 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 flights do not affect other aircraft. This would mean that indoors, pilots would only need to follow the building’s health and safety regulations.
But the fundamental question remains – how many people need an indoor FPV drone or a small outdoor drone that is likely less powerful than DJI’s current FPV drone? I am yet to be convinced that the audience is large despite the leaks.
unexpected flying object
DJI clearly knows its audience, so we look forward to seeing it answer those questions when the DJI Avata inevitably launches soon.
The company’s broader goal appears to be to bring professional filmmaking tools to a wider audience – and in that sense, DJI Avata could be their attempt to help all types of filmmakers shoot the kinds of spectacular FPV drone videos (such as Tesla’s Giga Factory Tour (opens in new tab)) that have gone viral in recent years.
The problem, and what I’m still not sure the DJI Avata will be able to solve, is that this type of video requires some high-level flying skills that take years to develop. It seems likely that the Avata will be hailed as a beginner FPV drone, but what made DJI’s other drones so good for beginners is their automated flight modes – something that makes a lot less sense in an FPV drone.
Oh hello #DJI #Avata pic.twitter.com/gzpE5LrY0uAugust 6, 2022
The recent Snap Pixy tried to address some of these issues with automated modes like Hyperspeed or Jump Cut, as well as subject tracking abilities. But that pocket drone also forgot to include a half-decent camera or battery, and so far DJI Avata leaks suggest it’s targeting FPV enthusiasts more than those wanting a point-and-shoot FPV camera.
With the Avata’s leaked box suggesting it will come with a Goggles 2 headset and motion controller, it’s unlikely to be cheap – even if it drops below the DJI FPV’s launch price of $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$ 2,099. And the apparent inclusion of DJI Airsense technology (an alert system that tells pilots when other aircraft are flying nearby) suggests that the Avata will at least be both an outdoor and indoor drone. Its expected weight of 500g 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 over the past few days, this fundamental Avatar mystery should be solved later this month. Whether or not this makes the FPV drone a flying camera that is ready for a mainstream audience is another matter.