The enterprise category is a no-brainer for the world’s largest drone manufacturer. Sure, it’s not as sexy as the consumer and cinematography categories with which the company is most closely associated, but it’s a growing industry, and will likely to continue to be as \as corporations discover more uses for units like the Matrice 200.
DJI’s newest drone, unveiled this weekend at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is a customized version of the movie-focused Inspire 2 model the company announced late last year, sporting mounts compatible with the early model’s cameras, including the 30x optical zoom Zenmuse Z30 and the XT thermal imager.
One of the key differences between the two devices is weatherproofing (with a waterproofing rating of IP43), an obvious addition for a product designed to contend with some pretty rough atmospheric conditions. That plays into one of the key case uses of these devices: public safety. The drone is, in part, designed for scouting out dangerous conditions, be it weather or fire – though as the DJI rep I spoke with helpfully suggested during our conversation, “I wouldn’t fly it through a sandstorm.”
Accessing spots human can’t – or would rather not – explore is a big aspect of the proposed functionality for Matrice 200, including the ability to closely inspect objects like wind turbines and oil rigs to spot infrastructural issues and help plan maintenance.
The system features a quartet of modes designed for different data collecting scenarios, including Spotlight, in which the camera locks onto a subject as the drone moves; the circling Point of Interesting; Tripod, which is designed to navigate tight spots and ActiveTrack for following moving objects. The M200 features three different configurations, depending on case usage, offering different camera vantage points.
Pricing is still TBD (and largely dependent on configuration), though the aforementioned DJI rep told me that it would be, unsurprisingly, more than the Inspire 2, which starts at $3,000. Pricing will likely play a role in how these sorts of devices are ultimately used, whether corporations opt to use employees are rely on third-party agencies to help gather data.
An accessible price point, on the other hand, would likely go a long ways toward helping mainstream these sorts of drones for the manner of applications DJI is banking on making them an essential tool for a variety of industries.