DJI's M200 Series drone is tough enough for enterprise applications

DJI unveils a rugged quadcopter series for commercial and industrial applications.

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Image: DJI

DJI is known for drones for aerial photography and filmmaking, but the company's latest offering is a series of rugged drones built for commercial inspections and data collection. The new Matrice 200 (M200) series drones have potentially game-changing options for camera mounts. Plus, they are foldable, weather resistant, and stuffed with sensors for collision avoidance.

"Drones have quickly become a standard part of the enterprise toolkit and industrial users have come to rely on DJI technology to efficiently collect aerial data," said Paul Guo, director of Enterprise Solutions at DJI, in a statement.

These drones are not for amateurs or even for professionals who just want to take pretty pictures. Instead, the M200 series aims at gritty enterprise applications such as inspecting large hard-to-reach structures. These drones will be used to inspect power lines, telecommunications towers, bridges, and energy infrastructure such as dams, wind turbines, and off-shore oil rigs. They can also be used on construction sites for mapping and monitoring the progress of large projects.

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Image: DJI

Finally, DJI suggests that these drones could be especially useful for search and rescue missions since they can fly even when the weather isn't ideal (they have an IP43 classification, which means they can handle spraying water).

There are three versions of the new drone. The standard M200 has one downward-facing gimbal mount, but the M210 can accommodate multiple payload configurations. It can either be set up to carry two forward-facing cameras or a single top-mount camera. While it's certainly not ideal to have to decide whether the drone will look up or forward, this is DJI's first upward-facing gimbal mount, which puts the company in a stronger position among the competition for commercial drones.

The fully-loaded version, the M210 RTK, has the same mounting options as the 210, plus Real-Time Kinematic technology, which is a beefed-up GPS that enables the drone to navigate precisely to the centimeter.

All of the M200 drones are compatible with DJI's existing intelligence and accessories, such as flight planning software, computer vision for data collection, subject tracking abilities, and Zenmuse cameras.

The collision avoidance system will especially appeal to commercial operators who need to get very close to structures for inspections. An upward-facing laser sensor identifies any object above the drone while a stereo vision system looks out for objects below.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but the new series is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2017.

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