The DJI Inspire 1 is the new quadcopter by the DJI company, this company is at the forefront of commercial innovations in UAV technology and the Inspire 1 brings a number of new technologies to the market.
One of these innovative design elements is that the rotors and legs can be lifted during flight allowing a full, unrestricted 360⁰ below the camera, this unrestricted view is common in much more expensive systems.
An option that is used in professional videography is dual-operator control, this is where one operator flies the UAV while the other controls the camera via the gimbal controls, with each operator having their own screen. The Inspire 1 has this option with the ability to buy two remote controls with the system as well as the technology within the drone.
Another innovative technology is the Optical Flow Technology which allows the location and altitude of the Inspire 1 to be maintained accurately even when a GPS signal is not available, such as an indoor environment, and allows the legs to automatically be lowered when landing. While the Vision Positioning System allows the system to hold its position while indoors, stop when the controls are released, and respond to your commands using a camera and ultrasonics system.
The DJI mobile app is available on iOS and Android and allows manual control of the camera, provides flight telemetry data and auto takeoff and landing controls.
The DJI Inspire 1 specifications are:
- Hovering accuracy with the GPS mode of 0.5m vertical and 2.5m horizontal
- Maximum Angular Velocity – Pitch: 300°/s and Yaw: 150°/s
- Maximun Tilt Angle: 35°
- Maximum Ascent Speed: 5m/s
- Maximum Descent Speed: 4m/s
- Maximum Speed: 22m/s (ATTI mode, no wind)
- Maximum Flight Altitude: 4500m
- Maximum Wind Speed Resistance: 10m/s
- Maximum Flight Time: Approximately 18 minutes
The camera specifictions are:
- 12 megapixel photographs
- Video in 4K at 24-30 fps, or 1080p at 24-60fps
- Lens with 9 elements in 9 groups including an aspherical element
- 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor
- 94⁰ wide-angle FOV (Field of view)
- 3-axis, 360⁰ rotating gimbal
The video from the camera can be displayed in real-time in 720p HD on mobile devices thanks to DJI’s Lightbridge technology which can transmit video up to 2km.
The modular payload systen of the Aspire 1 suggested that there are planned options for other recording media.
The camera can be detached and attached to a pole making the camera a handheld recording device.
A SDK (Software DEvelopment Kit) has allowed outside company integration with both the camera and software.
The Inspire 1 costs £2,380 with one remote control and £2,749 with two remote controls.
The Inspire 1 is a complete ready to fly system.
A constant problem with cheaper UAV systems is the fixed nature of the camera, with gimbals only being able to pan up and down generally because of the position of the legs of the vehicle. More expensive systems have legs that can be lifted upwards by motors allowing the camera to move 360° from side to side meaning that a separate camera operator can control the camera while the pilot concentrates on the flying, but these tend to be very expensive (£5000-7000 or more) and still require the additional purchase of a camera. The Inspire 1 gets around this problem by designing a system which lifts the legs up at the same time as the props giving this 360° degree field of view.
The Optical Flow Technology allows the Inspire 1 to fly indoors with stability when there is no GPS signal to stabilize the system.
Thanks to these abilities the Inspire 1 has the ability to both map archaeology and cultural heritage by taking vertical overlapping photographs from above in a mapping pattern, to record upstanding monuments with the camera at a right angle to them, and to record flythroughs of both archaeology and cultural heritage with a separate controller panning the camera when required. Unlike other systems it provides all of these abilities in one package.
The ability to carry other recording packages in the future is very enticing, hopefully including lidar and infra-red.
On the face of it the cost would seem too high, but after analysing what you get (see the article on RC Geeks), for full details it becomes quite reasonable.
- It comes with the DJI Lightbridge technology which would cost an additional £999 is purchased separately.
- To equip a previous UAV with the 4K camera technology would require the purchase of a GoPro Hero4 Black which costs £369.99.
- The Zenmuse H3-3D Gimbal to hold the camera would cost an additional £249.
So even buying the DJI Phantom 2 for £499 the additional costs to provide similar abilities to the Inspire 1 bring it close to the cost of that system, and that is without many of the abilities that the Inspire 1 has.
Although the Inspire 1 is pricey it comes with everything that you could need for professional style photography.
With the incareased movement of the many elements of the Inspire 1 there may be problems with wear and tear on the system.