Drone manufacturer DJI has announced the Phantom 3 – a new line of quadcopter drones that aim to offer improved performance and image control than its previous products.
Forget about the signature red and white DJI colours – the new Phantom 3 drones come in white and gold. The Phantom 3 Professional drone (retailing at £1,159) features a 4K video camera that shoots 12-megapixel stills at 30/24FPS, while the Phantom 3 Advanced (retailing at £899) has a 1080p video camera that takes 12MP images at up to 60FPS with a higher dynamic 95-degree field.
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ featured a 1080p video camera with the ability to capture wide-angle, 14MP stills, but we assume the magic of the Phantom 3 comes in the fact that it has Visual Position Stabilisation - a feature previously limited to the prosumer drone Inspire 1.
Using the drone's new specially designed downward-facing camera, together with sensors and a CPU, Visual Position Stabilisation combines visual data and sonic waves to determine the quadcopter's position even when GPS signals are weak or non-existent.
"The Phantom 3 is not just a refresh of our existing product line. So we rebuilt it from the ground up to make aerial imaging as intuitive as smartphone photography," DJI's global PR manager Michael Perry said at the press conference in London on 8 April.
"The Phantom 2 and other drones on the market require you to take your hands off the control in order to take pictures, but now with the Phantom 3, from the control you can take pictures, control the gimbal, move it up and down - all from the handheld control."
Previously an optional extra, the third-generation Phantoms come with Lightbridge as standard, which streams HD video from the drone's camera to a device on the ground like a smartphone or tablet in near real-time from the handheld control unit. Where permitted, this would enable pilots to fly the drone beyond their natural line of sight.
Perry stressed that DJI wanted to make sure that users were able to be completely in control of their drones and "always know that the platform is where it's supposed to be.
The DJI Pilot app has been updated to feature a flight simulator so that drone operators can plot their journeys in advance.
"What about first-time pilots but might not have the space to practice all the time? With the DJI Pilot app we've added the pilot phantom simulator so you can train virtually before you take your Phantom out," said Perry.
"Additionally we've added flight logs so you can track very easily how your flight performances are doing and then scan your content to see your content in a new dynamic way based on where it's tagged with GPS."
There is also a Director function that lets you quickly edit together the best moments of aerial footage, add music and then post it up immediately on social networks and video sharing websites.
The app also features a simplified interface that can automatically tell you everything that the drone senses as soon as the tablet is clipped into the controller.
DJI also announced that it is expanding its SDK programme to create new apps for the Inspire 1 and the Phantom 3, such as the ability to create 3D models, stream video content directly to news wire services, and to use "auto pilot options in ways that weren't previously possible", according to Perry.
Finally DJI also announced that it has created a new webpage called "Fly Safe", which features a database of drone regulations from different countries to inform DJI drone operators. The drone manufacturer is also starting a University education programme to work closely with academia to develop new use cases for drones.