The DJI Phantom range is the most popular consumer drone available across the world. The original Phantom 1 released in January 2013 was the first ready-to-fly drone that used GPS. It was hugely popular here at RC Geeks and was followed by the Phantom 2 and then Phantom 3 range.
The Phantom 3 was released in April 2015, and has proved to be their most popular drone to date. With no official information released yet from DJI, we’re going to look at what we expect from a Phantom 4, and what we can learn from the Phantom X concept video.
Update – Return to Your Senses – 1st March New York
Finally, a teaser video! DJI have now released a video showing some sneaky shots of a new aircraft, this confirms something big is coming! At 4pm GMT/11am EST on the 1st March the event will take place in New York.
Phantom 4 Leaked Pictures
Rumours of the Phantom 4 are spreading fast online, and some pictures have emerged of what appears to be a Phantom with ultrasonic sensors attached to the front and sides. It is impossible to tell at this stage if they are genuine, but it definitely builds anticipation.
It’s clear to see on this picture a redesigned gimbal system. The gimbal arms now hold the camera from both sides, perhaps increasing strength and the base is integrated in to the hull of the Phantom shell. Also the underneath optical flow sensors are clear to see towards the front of the aircraft.
We can also see lights under the motors, perhaps the existing lights have been moved from the ESC to a more prominent position under the motor. The Phantom 3 currently has air vents on top of the aircraft, where-as on this model any venting is underneath. Could DJI be working towards a more weatherproof model?
It would seem from the picture below that there is something at the top of the landing gear. Most likely some kind of ultrasonic sensor for front object avoidance.
Phantom X Concept Video
DJI themselves had a bit of fun creating a video called “DJI – Phantom X Concept”. This shows a Phantom flying autonomously avoiding objects and flying as a swarm with other phantoms. I think this is a good insight in to DJI’s future dream, and possibly a glimpse into what is possible in the not too distant future.
What features do we expect to see in a Phantom 4?
Here we speculate possible features we think may be possible in the Phantom 4. These are all our own ideas and there has been no confirmation from DJI themselves.
Since the release of the Phantom 3, DJI released the Matrice 100 quadcopter which is intended for developers and custom applications. This features an object avoidance module that will allow the quadcopter to take over control if you get too near an object and steer the opposite way.
Often DJI update their consumer products with the technology from the higher end drones, this happened with Lightbridge and raising landing gear on the S1000. Perhaps starting with front object avoidance, this is a pretty key feature that could be added to the Phantom 4. The technology is already available so it is just a matter of time.
We sold the original Lightbridge unit for £1099 in 2014. What a difference a year makes…a similar system was integrated into the Phantom 3 in April 2015 where for a similar price you now get the whole aircraft thrown in! We could see upgrades in performance to the Lightbridge system, perhaps in latency.
Everyone wants longer battery life, however whether the technology is available yet is another thing. We’d expect over 20 minutes from a Phantom 4.
After viewing the Phantom X concept video we see multiple aircraft operating in sync with each other. Could this be possible with the Phantom 4? It’s definitely possible however I don’t think the processing power is ready yet to operate in harmony. Let’s save this for the Phantom 5.
Follow Mode – Wrist Mounted Unit
Currently the Phantom 3 can follow the transmitter, however it is quite a large unit and wouldn’t be suitable for sports. This would be a feature that would be greatly appreciated by sports enthusiasts.
With the release of the Phantom 3, the Phantom 2 was still available as a lower-priced product. The Phantom 3 is still the market leading consumer drone, and it seems a bit soon to replace it right now. Perhaps a new drone will be released with additional features at a higher price point?