Drones – they started out simple and have achieved incredible feats so far. The latest and most impressive model has proved that it can avoid obstacles while tracking humans.
Part of DJI’s famous Phantom series, the Phantom 4 is neither an R&D project nor a prototype – it’s the most advanced consumer drone on the market. But its enhancements and technology come with a rather high price tag.
To keep track of the surroundings of the drone – especially of what’s ahead – the device was equipped with a new obstacle avoidance system which incorporates two forward-facing optical sensors.
The system is pretty smart, as it attempts to fly around the object it could collide with, but also maintaining its general flight direction. Avoiding obstacles when piloting a drone can be rather tricky as the collision course is hard to judge from the ground perspective.
A quick YouTube search will reveal a lot of drone collision videos, and nearly any pilot will have a story to tell about hitting trees with their drones or simply flying them into rooftops and building walls.
But with the new tracking system, the pilot only has to tap on the subject they want to follow via the iOS or Android apps, and the drone will pick up on it and keep it centered. So, for example, if you tap on a cyclist, the drone will make sure to keep them in the middle of the image.
According to DJI, the software they developed is complex enough to be able to keep track of a subject even if it changes direction or appears to have another shape from the camera’s viewpoint. The great part is that even while the drone keeps the subject centered, the pilot is still in full control of the camera’s movement.
TapFly is a new feature in the DJI Go app, and it allows pilots to choose a destination and let the software calculate the best flight route while also avoiding any potential obstacles.
If the drones are as good as promised, the technology incorporated in the Phantom 4 represents a step further in making the devices easier than ever to fly and control.
DJI’s ultimate goal is to gradually remove the complex flight knowledge traditionally required, so more people will feel encouraged to buy and use drones.
Phantom 4’s top speed is 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour), and the device is packed with a new battery that promises 28 minutes of uninterrupted flight time. The price is made to measure the technology: the Phantom 4 costs $1,399.
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