DJI Releases A New Workhorse Drone

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Here at CleanTechnica, we are starting to cover drones. As I explained in another article, electric aviation is already here. Small drones are not only doing new things, but are in many cases replacing manned aircraft that burn fossil fuels. They’re definitely a type of electric vehicle, and they are having a positive environmental impact.

DJI recently released a drone that’s sure to do all of that: the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced. It’s a serious workhorse that can serve the needs of public safety workers, utilities, and a variety of other professionals who would otherwise consider calling for a helicopter.

“Powerful Thermal And Visual Sensors, Highly Accurate RTK Technology And A 32 X Digital Zoom Make The New Addition To DJI’s Commercial Fleet The Most Capable In Its Class.”

DJI Drone
Image provided by DJI

“We realized that our Enterprise customers were often using the Mavic 2 Enterprise for industrial inspections where better accuracy and higher resolutions for thermal and visual sensors were critical features to perform a job well. Thanks to new key upgrades, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced becomes the ideal drone and must-have tool for these types of complex inspections,” said Christina Zhang, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy & Communication at DJI.

The Platform

The drone is based on DJI’s Mavic 2 prosumer platform. While more capable than the consumer Mavic Mini and Mavic Air 2, it’s not as capable as higher end drones like the Inspire or Matrice series. It also doesn’t come with the $5000 and up professional pricetag ($15-20,000 with thermal sensors and mroe accurate GPS), making it a lot easier for professionals of all kinds. Other drones on this platform include the Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro (which I own), and the Mavic 2 Enterprise (not Advanced).

The platform can handle winds of up to around 20 MPH, and can go up to 40 MPH. Range far exceeds anything most professional user would use, because FAA rules limit flights to visual line-of-sight unless one gets a special waiver. It flies for around a half hour. It’s a good platform for the professional photography I do, but my Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t have some of the features that the Enterprise or Enterprise Advanced models do. Two drones on the platform built for two very different jobs.

Features Shared With The Enterprise (not Advanced)

This drone is a pretty good step up from the normal Enterprise, but shares some of the same features. The top has an interchangeable module where you can add a loudspeaker, bright strobe (for night flying with FAA waivers), or spotlight. It also has improved security and safety features, like the normal Enterprise.

Better Sensors

The difference is that the Enterprise Advanced has much, much better sensors. The visible light sensor (the normal camera) is a lot more like the one in the Mavic Air 2. Reviewers and hobbyists online, along with some professional photographers, get good results with the 1/2″ 48 MP sensor. For professional non-creative missions, the extra resolution improves the ability to do things like inspect towers, gather evidence, etc. Also, the larger sensor size compared to the normal Enterprise allows for better imaging in low light conditions, which can be useful for many public safety or serious work tasks.

The infrared sensor is also a big improvement. The normal Enterprise version has a very low resolution sensor, making it difficult to use for both commercial tasks like thermal roof inspections and for public safety tasks like looking for remnants of fire or a lost hiker. The images were just too blobby to get real, actionable information in many cases. The new sensor has not only higher resolution (640×512), but more accurate detection of color differences and some digital zoom.

In other words, the drone has every feature of the regular Enterprise and betters it in key ways.

More Mapping Accuracy

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced also has one more trick up its sleeve: centimeter-level location accuracy. Normal GPS units (like the one on my Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic Mini) are good for many tasks, but are only accurate down to a few feet. To make really accurate maps and inspections with a drone, you need a Real-time Kinematic (RTK) unit. The science is complicated, but it measures signals from GPS satellites (and sometimes a ground-based receiver nearby) to correct its position down to within a centimeter.

Mappers, power line inspectors, and even crime scene investigators can get much better information using a drone with this module. For some jobs, getting the information to within a few feet is good enough. For other jobs, you need to know exactly where each measured feature is to fix something or save lives. It all comes down to how much accuracy you need.

Another way high accuracy helps is when you need the drone to go to an exact position on a waypoint mission. For some jobs, this means getting to see the same camera field of view time after time. For other jobs, an important component (powerlines, for example) lies at a certain point and getting just a few inches off would ruin the data collection process. Accurate navigation is the key to the game in some cases.

Pricing & Availability

The original Mavic 2 Enterprise sells for around $3350 with both the visual and infrared sensor. DJI didn’t announce pricing for the Enterprise Advanced, referring potential buyers to local dealers. An internet search didn’t turn up many results, but I did find one dealer offering a preorder for around $7500.

If the features the Advanced offers make a difference in your line of work, it makes sense to spend the money. Comparable thermal sensors on high end professional drones cost that much by themselves. If what you do doesn’t require high resolution or high accuracy (most drone operators don’t need that), then it makes sense to go with the regular Enterprise or even one of the prosumer drones (Zoom, Pro).

Another thing this tells us is that DJI is getting serious about getting advanced features into more user friendly and easy to deploy packages for professionals. Setting up an Inspire or Matrice usually takes a few minutes. Setting up a Mavic and getting it into the air happens a lot faster, and takes up a lot less trunk space. For serious professionals who fly drones, but perform other tasks most of the time, the Mavic 2 Enterprise series is shaping up to be a good option.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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