On Wednesday evening at the Treasure Island Event venue in San Francisco DJI’s Eric Cheng officially unveiled the Inspire 1 drone. The new quadcopter sports a more rectangular design than DJI’s extremely popular Phantom series of drones.
The arms of the Inspire 1 can transform- meaning they begin at a position propping up the body of the drone (which looks sort of like a helicopter cockpit) at a 45 degree angle. This allows for a healthy distance between the Inspire’s camera and the ground. Once the drone takes flight, though, the arms can shift upwards so they are level with the body, meaning the camera is the only thing suspended below the drone. This also eliminates propellors or arms from ever intruding on your pictures and/or video.
And speaking of pictures and video, the Inspire 1’s camera (optimized for LightBridge) is an impressive 4k, 12 megapixel sphere of power that resembles the camera found on the Phantom 2 Vision. It has a 94 degree wide-angle lens and supports filters like polarization. The camera is supported by a 3 axis gimbal and capable of full 360 degree rotation.
Here’s the best part though: the camera is modular- so it’s easier than ever to repair and upgrade.
The camera aids in the drone’s auto-take off and landing features, as well as GPS-less position hold, by “seeing” the ground.
The Inspire 1 also sports a new controller similar in design to the recent upgrade of the Phantom controller- the shoulders of the controller sport dials for adjusting the camera and the face of the controller features indicator LEDs for tracking the Inspire’s battery charge.
One notable difference from the Phantoms, though, is the fact that users can now tether a second controller to the system for direct control of the camera. So users can work in teams: pilots can focus on flying and photographers can focus on taking the best pictures.
Additionally, the controllers have USB and HDMI outlets so you can plug the controller right in to your computer/tablet/television.
The Inspire 1 uses a 6 cell LiPo battery that enables 18 minutes of flight time. It is available now for $2,899 with one controller, $3,399 with two and additional controllers will cost $650.
In addition to the Inspire 1, Cheng also announced DJI’s first open-sourced software development kit. For the first time, users and partner companies can build their own apps using the DJI SDK.
Cheng introduced Pix4D’s Antoine Martin who showed how his company’s increasingly popular software for UAVs is using DJI’s Phantoms to bring 2 and 3D maps to your computers and smart devices.
The announcement was capped off with the first ever Inspire 1 selfie, which starred Mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com