Thursday, September 21, 2023

The DJI M30 drone can fly in heavy rain – and has its own robot dock

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You wouldn’t want to fly most drones in a serious downpour, not even most of DJI’s industrial drones. Until today, DJI’s state-of-the-art was the M300 RTK, a drone that took a barrage of water in marketing videos but where the fine print (PDF) says that snow and heavy rain are not okay to fly. But DJI’s weather resistance and confidence rating have improved – the new DJI M30 Enterprise, announced today, is explicitly ready for “heavy rain, high winds, high altitudes, even in icy and snowy conditions from -20°C to 50°C”, according to the company.

The M30 has an IP55 rating for dust and water protection, compared to the IP45 rating of the M300 RTK. That is technically not a higher water value.
Image: DJI

The M30 is also more portable than practically any of the company’s other industrial drones – small enough to fit in a large backpack or small roller case – and with self-locking arms that snap into place and instead fold up with the push of a button. from having to screw and unscrew as with previous Matrice models. While the 8.2-pound drone still has the tubular arms common to industrial UAVs, the design is much closer to the Mavic that helped DJI dominate the foldable drone category.

Image :DJI

The 41-minute maximum flight time means the M30 doesn’t have the stamina of DJI’s longest-lived drones, but DJI benefits from its size in a different way – it’s finally unveiled its own robotic drone-in-a-box solution for fully autonomous missions. , one small enough to work on the back of a pickup truck.

Docking station.
GIF by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The DJI Dock has its own built-in weather station, surveillance cameras, antennas, 25 minutes of automatic fast battery charging and can support drone missions up to 7 kilometers away, but pay attention to the fine print there:

The DJI Dock must be used in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and its advanced features cannot yet be used in jurisdictions where a human pilot must remain within the drone’s field of view or maintain physical control of the drone by a controller to hold on.

One such “jurisdiction” is the US, although the FAA has taken small steps to make automated drone-in-a-box missions on a case-by-case or company-by-company basis. Most notably, American Robotics was given the green light last January for some with minimal human involvement.

The Dock offers dedicated power and internet access, although DJI says it has an internal battery for power cuts and can support a 4G dongle.

This is the DJI M30T variant.
Image: DJI

As for the camera, there are actually two models of the M30: the M30 and the M30T. I’ll let DJI explain:

The M30 model integrates a 48 megapixel 1/2” CMOS sensor zoom camera with 5×~16× optical and 200× digital zoom, a 12 megapixel wide-angle camera, 8k photo 4K/30 fps video resolution and a laser rangefinder that can give the precise coordinates from objects up to 1200 meters away. The M30T has an additional 640×512 px radiometric thermal camera.

There are also sensors for obstacle avoidance in six directions, and the emergency landing with three propellers of the M300 RTK also finds its way here.

As is typical for enterprise drones, DJI didn’t give us a quote right away — but for reference, the M300 RTK started at $10,000 and up. Here, both new M30 models come with a completely redesigned RC Plus controller with a larger 7-inch screen (versus 5.5-inch) and IP54 protection for use in heavy rain while preserving the removable external battery. Also coming in October is a new DJI FlightHub 2 flight management software suite for DJI’s enterprise drones and a Zenmuse H20N “starlight-grade hybrid night vision sensor” that you can add to the older M300 RTK.

The RC Plus controller – note the water ingress protection around the joysticks.
Image: DJI

If you’re interested in the drone-in-a-box, “DJI Dock is currently being tested with select users and will be available for purchase from Q4 2022,” the press release reads.

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