DJI INSPIRE IS ANNOUNCED! RELEASE DATE: 15.01.2017!
Very recently, there was a leak of photographs of what appeared to be DJI testing out a new drone. These may have been a marketing tactic from the company itself, but the quality of the pictures seemed to point to something else entirely: spyshots of a prototype quadcopter. We think it just might be the successor to the Inspire 1 from DJI.
The leaked photo (image from www.drohnen.de)
One of the most noticeable features in this particular shot is the landing gear of the drone. They seem to have been extended by a fair amount from the original Inspire drone. This means that there is a lot more space under the body for a camera. In addition to this, the legs seem to be taller as well, meaning there is more clearance between the underbelly and the ground when the drone is landed.
A Gimbal That Looks Very Familiar
Could this mean that we will be seeing larger cameras becoming compatible? It is a well-known fact that the Inspire series of drone is able to carry a larger payload than most other models. DSLR cameras such as the Canon Eos 5D (seen in the picture above) might actually be mountable on a specialized gimbal for the drone!
In the days of the DJI Inspire 1, the gimbal could be bought separately. This is in stark contrast to the latest DJI drone, the Phantom 4, which has a non-replaceable gimbal that is fixed into the body of the drone. If the gimbal on the Inspire 2 is also of a modular design, it may even be possible for owners to save some money by fixing the gimbal from the Inspire 1 to the Inspire 2. If this is the case, the options when it comes to cameras will also be much wider.
The closest design that has been seen on a gimbal like this is the Zenmuse Z15 attachable gimbal. This is a very popular choice indeed because it is a lot more advanced than its competition. The difference is that there is no quick-release connector. However, for the most part, it looks like the current Z15 looks very similar indeed to the gimbal on the DJI prototype drone. Could this mean that a newer gimbal is going to come out with improved tech and stability?
If there is one thing users loved about the Inspire 1, it was that it was compatible with different gimbals. Perhaps a new gimbal would be attachable to the older drone as well. Don’t get your hopes up about mounting a DSLR on the Inspire 1 though, unless you want a broken $1000 camera when you land it. The chassis clearance simply isn’t enough on the older drone. The Inspire 1 would also never be able to carry a big camera like the EOS 5D along with the Z15 gimbal. This is more evidence pointing to a drone with a bigger payload limit, power and chassis clearance.
Could A Dual Camera System Be In The Works?
If you take a closer look at the picture above, you will notice that while there is a camera mounted on the bottom like a typical Inspire drone, there is also an FPV camera incorporated into the nose of this prototype. Could this mean that a true dual operator mode is coming to the Inspire 2 (if that is what this is)? The new camera means that one operator would be the designated pilot, flying in FPV with a dedicated stream, and the other operator would be using the mounted camera to control the gimbal and take aerial footage.
If this dual system is the real deal, it is quite possible that the DJI Inspire 2 will ship with 2 remote controls (one for the pilot, one for the navigator). You might even be able to quick-switch between flight modes and camera views using a patched version of the firmware or the DJI Pilot app. This also means that both operators can see using FPV or DSLR view at the same time without there being any interference with the operation of the drone.
How Will The New Payload Be Managed?
This is where we depart from theory and enter the realm of speculation. Considering the fact that the DSLR camera and a large gimbal such as we see in the picture are going to be pretty heavy, a normal motor propulsion system probably isn’t going to cut it in terms of providing enough lift. Currently, the only system that comes close to being capable enough is the all-new E1200 Pro Tuned Propulsion System. This is an assumption of course, but it is also based on logic. New motors, propellers and ESCs will need to be used as well to bear the brute force required to lift that weight.
There are going to need to be large propellers for this type of system. 17-inch propellers might be the answer, made out of carbon fiber for weight reduction in flight while maintaining strength. With a diameter of that size, there will need to be a modular design on the props and on the drone itself in order to make transportation easier. This mode already exists on some drones, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to adapt to the Inspire 2.
Now, one of the most pressing questions is going to be from people who currently own the DJI Inspire 1 drone. You are going to want to see some of these new features carried over to the Inspire 1; if any of them are going to be true in the end. Well, it might not all be good news. It can safely be assumed that the E1200 prop system will carry over to the older drones, but this is probably where it is going to end. For the most part, the new features will probably only be available on the Inspire 2. Some of these might even include a Collision Avoidance System like the one DJI uses in their new Phantom 4 quadcopter.
What We Want To See In The Inspire 2
Now that we have the speculation and the rumors out of the way, we can talk about the features that most people want to see when (or if) the Inspire 2 comes out. It has been a year since the release of the first Inspire drone, which was a booming success. Sure, there have been many upgrades to the original Inspire drone, such as the new gimbals from Zenmuse and even an Inspire 1 Professional version for the more hardcore aerial photography aficionados. They were all based on the base design of the Inspire 1 line. Now, even though there were many great features for the first drone, there is a lot that could be improved on, especially in light of the new technological advancements we are seeing in the field in the present day.
Dual Operator Mode
This is something that our recently discovered leaked images have shown to perhaps be true. When the original Inspire drone released, it was a marvel in its own right. It had the first known dual operator system so that both a pilot and navigator/photographer could be in the drone at the same time. It was also RTF (ready to fly) meaning that there was no need for a complicated setup which led to a lot of transmission interference and other problems. Users could play around with the new mode simply by installing the DJI android app and switching the mode on! This was an amazing development, of course. However, it wasn’t the real deal.
If dual operator is to be truly something to use and remember, there has to be more than one camera on the drone. This is the only way in which it can be used effectively. One camera needs to be for shooting photos and video using the navigator, and the other needs to be more of an FPV enabled camera that allows for a pilot to fly the drone without being interrupted by the photographer. Currently, the Inspire 1 works by the pilot flying “blind”, using a direct line of sight to the drone to move it around, so that the cameraman can access the camera feed remotely. This isn’t real dual operator because you can’t afford to let the drone out of your sight. You have to keep it flying in open terrain without buildings or trees to break your LOS (Line Of Sight). In addition to this, the lack of FPV for the pilot means they can’t judge the distance to a target all that well either.
The images we have been seeing of the prototype drone from DJI seems to have solved this problem but nothing is confirmed just yet. The most recent image from a German site has shown two cameras on the drone. One is attached to a gimbal, as with any normal drone, whilst the other seems to be an integrated FPV camera on the nose of the drone. If this is really the case, it is going to be bringing true Dual Operator modes to the new Inspire 2. That is definitely something to get hyped about!
Payloads That Support Third-Party Equipment
This is something that has been bugging DJI users for a while now. DJI has, in history, never allowed the use of 3rd party equipment and payloads on its drones from the Inspire and Phantom lines. This is something that a lot of other manufacturers allow, but the company appears to be sticking to its guns in this case. The advantage of such a system would be incredible. You would be able to use the Zenmuse gimbal with an officially supported camera for the normal filming you do every day, and then you’d be able to switch over to a gimbal that supports an FLIR system for night vision or for other projects. Of course, there are plenty of workarounds to the lack of support from DJI for other gimbals and payloads. These are annoying, time-consuming, and can void the warranty as well.
While we can only hope that the Inspire 2 is different, it probably won’t be. However, the newly revealed and rumored drone appears to have added support for a ton of new cameras, so it may not be that bad. If it is, well, DJI users have already gotten very used to putting up with it.
Batteries We Can Actually Rely On
One of the biggest problems with the Inspire 1 is that it is a drone we want to fly for a lot longer. Now, batteries in the present day aren’t advanced enough to give us too much more flight time. In fact, given the technology that exists right now it can be said that the flight time of the Inspire 1 is very reasonable indeed. However, they aren’t really the most reliable batteries out there.
DJI makes use of a system known as Intelligent Battery Systems. These are a step up from your typical “plug and play” battery packs that you get in a lot of other devices. The precise art of charging a battery to the right level and then stopping its discharge before it goes dangerously low is managed by the battery itself. This has led to much less effort being required to maintain the flight time of the Inspire drones over an extended period of time.
The problem with the current IBS? It simply isn’t as reliable or trustworthy as we want it to be. Every so often, an Inspire 1 user comes in reporting a massive drop in the battery life after a few weeks of using it. You could be flying and clearly see the app telling you that you have 80% battery remaining. Two seconds later you feel your heart fly into your mouth because the indicator now says you have just 3% left. A few hundred meters away from you, the drone goes into landing mode to prevent a crash. You weren’t even done shooting.
Now, most of the time this type of error occurs because the operator isn’t careful enough about proper battery maintenance. If you want to have reliable battery experiences, you need to charge the batteries fully right before you fly. If you charge them up and fly the drone a week after the charge occurred, the latent drain of the batteries may have caused them to discharge on their own. Always charge your batteries right before flight. That being said, would it be too much to ask for a more trustworthy intelligent battery system for the new Inspire 2?
A More Modular, Folding Design
If there is one thing the Phantom 3 will always have over the Inspire 1, it is the portability of the drone. Phantoms are a lot smaller than Inspires, and therefore can be transported in a backpack with no problems at all. While the original Inspire drone has a travel mode that allows the props to be removed, it doesn’t reduce the amount of space that the actual drone consumes. If the Inspire 2 were to have a more modular design where the arms were locked in place and could be collapsed upon themselves or portability of the drone, we know fans everywhere would have parties.
One of the biggest reasons behind this is when you take your drone abroad with you or anywhere by air. The size of the drone means that it will have to be checked luggage. If you ever go into an airport, have a look at how checked luggage is treated.
More Options For Supported Cameras
This is more of an addition to the gimbal point, but it is important. We need to have a bigger range of options for the models of cameras supported by the gimbals. It looks as if the Inspire 2 is gearing up to provide us with just that, though. The recently leaked picture of the prototype in action has shown off what looks like an advanced version of the Zenmuse gimbal being used to hold a Canon EOS 5D in flight. A DSLR camera coming stock supported by a drone? That is unheard of, but it looks like what we are going to be getting with the Inspire 2. This begs the question: what other cameras will be supported? Action cameras like the GoPro are something that DJI has never supported on its Inspire drone without modification. Could this change?
There are many more things we all want from this drone that is rumored to be releasing later this year. If you have something you want to see in the DJI Inspire 2, be sure to let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for more updates about the status of the latest from DJI as the rumors come!