This week the internet is awash with rumours of a brand new drone. Never shy of innovating, DJI appear to be on the verge of releasing a new quadcopter codenamed 'MM1A' which many suspect will be the new DJI Spark.
In this updating post we catch up with the current rumours, discuss the potential specification of the new craft and conclude with suspected release date (now likely to be the 24th May 2017) and pre-order information.
What is the DJI Spark?
Is it a new FPV racer? Is it a selfie drone? Is it just a mini Mavic
? Some of the current rumours suggest it will be all three in one.
From the photos leaked so far, it appears to be a small
(no more than 150mm in length, it fits upon an iPad mini
), tough but lightweight quad copter built around a fixed frame with a two-axis stabilised camera mounted on the front.
The DJISpark in action
Up till recently information on the new drone was limited to conjecture on specification. It wasn't till this video 'leaked' that many started paying attention.
In the video you can get a feel for the small size of the drone and clearly see the two-axis gimbal in action resisting the motion as the craft is flicked about. Also note the large shiney plastic rectangle on the front potentially covering sensors, led ring lights around the bottom of the motors, the rears flashing different colours for visual user feedback.
Whilst nothing is formally announced, the leaks suggest the specifications will be as follows:
4k camera mounted to 2-Axis stabilised gimbal
- Robust solid frame construction
Lightweight at 190g (less propellers and battery)
- Front facing sensors (optical flow, IR)
- Down-facing sensors
- Cordless charging (via contacts on the base)
- Ring LED around motor base
- Folding quick-release propellers
- MicroSD card slot and Micro USB port for updates and potentially charging
Little has been deciphered regarding flight time and range as this will depend on battery specifics and transmission technologies applied to the new craft.
The front of the craft features a sensor array window behind which is a vision sensor and likely IR sensors for smart flying.
Internally we can see a GPU cooler style fan and heatsink layout for cooling the advanced electronics. There are plenty of recognisable electronics in there from the GPS chip to the twin antennas
Much like the Mavic, the battery appears to be removable and on the outer face appear to be four charge contact points.
These are potentially for an optional base-station charging/storage system that would allow you to keep the drone always charged and ready to go, or even land and charge itself.
The 4k camera is stabilised by a tiny 3-axis gimbal as shown below, it is capable of up to 60fps at 1080p.
DJI Spark Transmitter and Controller
So far little has been seen of the transmitter but many suspect it will be the Lightbridge powered GL200 Mavic unit. The short range wi-fi control with 'selfie' mode seen on the Mavic is also something we expect to be included with the inclusion of wifi antennas.
It is safe to assume that the drone will make use of DJI's current advanced flight controller algorithms, bringing all the follow-me and advanced pilot assist modes we have seen in the bigger drones.
It is also highly likely that it will compatible with the now long overdue DJI Goggles
. The tiny size of the new craft suggests that the Spark will be ideal for agile FPV style flying, the onboard camera would be perfectly suited to provide a HD FPV feed.
As the spark potentially sits in a new line (a mini-mavic if you will) it breaks the patterns we have seen in terms of release intervals and product updates. There has been talk for some time of an upcoming DJI product launch and everything now points to it being for the Spark. We expect the Spark to be formally announced with the usual fanfare on the last week of April 2017, most probably at the Las Vegas event on Sunday 23rd April 2017.
Edit: DJI have scheduled another event on Wednesday the 24th May in New York, which is likely to be focused on the new drone.
How much will the DJI Spark cost?
The once varied DJI consumer quadcopter lineup is now quite sparse with just the (now aging) Phantom 3 standard, Mavic and Phantom 4 Pro currently available. As such, we believe the DJI Spark will be priced below the price of the current Mavic and would estimate a UK RRP of as little as £600.
As the UK's leading DJI dealer we are looking forward to receiving the DJI Spark later this year. Check back here for order information once we know more.