Manned aircraft transmit their aerial trajectory using a system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), which helps pilots navigate congested airspaces. DJI’s new M200 drone, announced today, now adds an ADS-B receiver to help it know when it is in the path of oncoming planes or helicopters.
The drone, called the Matrice 200, is aimed toward enterprise and industrial support like bridge and building inspection, fire surveillance, and infrastructure maintenance. A quadcopter configuration with large 35mm x 15mm motors and 17-inch propellors (both larger than those on their Inspire drones), it touts many redundant control functions for safety, including dual 7760mWh battery packs that offer 38 minutes of flight time and a two-kilogram capacity. One version of the drone, the M210 RTK, includes a system for centimeter-level flight precision, for specifically repeatable autonomous flights. It’s also the first aircraft in their lineup that offers water resistance for rainy conditions.
The dual aspect of the M200 extends into the gimbals offered — the M210 variations of the drone include a two-camera mount that lets the pilot swap between two different sensor types, such as DJIs zoom camera and infrared camera. Another mount attaches to the top of the drone for upward-angled views needed for bridge and cellphone tower inspections. It also adds upward-facing IR sensors to the proximity sensor suite that DJI has been building into their drones of late.
The M200 will be available in the second quarter of 2017; pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but using many of the elements from the $3000 Inspire 2, I expect it will start higher than that. It’s aimed at a different category of flier than their Mavic or Phantom drones, but the safety features — especially the ADS-B tracking — are an exciting step forward as they should eventually find their way into even entry-level rigs. This system is mandatory for all manned aircraft in Australia, and US legislation requires a significant fleet of aircraft to use it by 2020. With concerns from the FAA and general public about drone-caused airstrikes, building these receivers into these platforms is a smart move.