On launched March 2, DJI launched DJI PFV, an entirely new type of drone that combines the first-person view and high-speed performance of racing drones, the cinematic camera sweep of traditional drones, and the safety and transmission technology of DJI’s leading consumer drones with an intuitive, immersive flight experience. To learn more about the process behind the creation of the drone, we sat down with the Product Manager from the R&D team.
Our Dream to Take FlightDJI’s engineers have always wanted to offer an immersive flight experience from a first-person view. Since DJI was established in 2006, as they drove DJI to lead the world in building efficient, powerful and eye-opening drones, they held that dream close in their hearts.
A first-person perspective allows drone pilots to immerse themselves completely into their surroundings, fully experiencing flight in a completely new way. DJI engineers wanted to create a high-quality and affordable version of that experience -- but for years, their dreams outpaced reality. Racing drones offered the flight experience but lacked DJI-style cinematic quality; DJI’s sophisticated camera drones made breathtaking images but could not maneuver like a racer.
With the release of DJI FPV, our engineers have finally built the drone of their dreams. They’ve applied and integrated everything they’ve learned into a product with no equal -- a drone that lets anyone experience the earth and sky as the birds do. This is the story of how they did it.
Achieving the “Immersive Flight Experience”
DJI first used the tagline "Immersive Flight Experience" in 2016 when we released the Mavic Pro -- itself a revolutionary step in consumer drone technology. Shortly after, we released our first ever FPV glasses, DJI Goggles, which allowed users to see an immersive flight experience from a powerful and capable drone. Mavic Pro augmented with Goggles was an experience like no other -- and it was closer to our dream than ever before. But it wasn’t there yet.
To close that gap, we took a nontraditional route to study and achieve “immersion.” The engineering team behind our image transmission system watched and studied the movie "Avatar” to gain inspiration and insight into what elements needed to be addressed to achieve immersion. They came up with three key elements:
- Realism -- making flight control feel effortless and image quality like a mirror of reality
- Visual perception -- engineering low latency between drone and glasses, as well as precision control so the drone responds instantly to users’ commands.
- Emotion -- not stopping until the flight experience is so vivid that it generates real feelings of pleasure, stimulation and awe.
This was a new challenge for us. Our engineers had accumulated years of R&D experience with our extensive roster of consumer drones, but most of that effort had focused on creating efficient and functional features. Unlike our other drones, DJI FPV wasn’t designed to be “functional.” It is built to optimize the immersive aspect of the experience -- and since experience is subjective, we first had to think deeply about what standard we were reaching for. How would we know when we achieved our dream?
It would take years of research and trial-and-error before we did. Once DJI FPV flawlessly integrated all three core elements, we knew our vision was ready for the world.
When we started the DJI FPV project, we described it as “the world's first immersive drone experience for everyday people.” We figured the only way to enable users of different levels to experience an immersive flight was to build a product that was ready to fly right out of the box. Since there was no product that existed on the market like this, we had no point of reference and had to define a new category ourselves.
The first challenge we faced was defining an intangible experience. It was difficult to communicate DJI FPV’s position in the drone market. One of our engineers used an analogy about cars: There are many different kinds, from workaday SUVs and sporty sedans to high-performance coupes and F1 racers. DJI FPV is the equivalent of a production coupe pushed to its limits -- an everyday driver, with knowledge and practice, can use it to experience the thrill of racing.
One of DJI FPV’s distinctive features is the ability to provide users with a complete visual experience. The image transmission needs to synchronize with the movement of the drone and cannot be distorted. After running thousands of tests on the gimbal, we were able to control the gimbal's rolling speed to replicate how birds fly in nature, providing a real-time flight experience unlike anything on the market.
HD video quality and low latency are two of the biggest advantages of a digital image transmission system. This feature not only provides users with instant, real-time video transmission but also a strong reliable video, as if the user is steering the drone in the “cockpit.” Over the past three years, we’ve invited numerous top professional pilots to rigorously test the digital image transmission system installed on the DJI FPV to make sure we’re providing our customers with the best of the best.
DJI FPV has many features packed into the system both physically and internally to allow users to gain the most out of their flight experience -- and the more they fly, the more of its features will be uncovered. For example, while flying, an "H" may appear in the goggles which helps users locate their take-off location. When flying, users may also notice a heavier tilt in attitude which has been aerodynamically designed for optimized flight endurance so that users can get the most out of their battery.
We encourage users to keep exploring the DJI FPV, flying in different modes, at different heights, speeds and locations to discover the endless options and features it has to offer.
Continuing the Dream
This year marks the 15th year anniversary of DJI and we’re thrilled to be kicking off the exciting year with DJI FPV. DJI was founded by a group of engineers with big dreams and in combination with their hard work, our dream to fly will continue to soar.