Although DJI Innovations is best-known for its line of "prosumer" Phantom quadcopters, it also makes a professional-use multicopter called the Spreading Wings. Among other things, that model features landing gear that folds up while the aircraft is in flight, so it won't get in the shot of the user's undercarriage-mounted video camera. Now, DJI has announced its new Inspire 1 quadcopter, which combines aspects of both the Phantom and the Spreading Wings.
The Inspire 1 has its own 4K/30fps video camera (it also shoots at 1080p and gets 12MP stills), which is attached to a 3-axis gimbal mount. This allows it to pan 360 degrees and tilt 135 degrees, which would certainly result in a lot of shots of the landing gear – if that gear didn't raise on command. Unlike the Spreading Wings, in which the landing struts move independently of the propeller arms, the Inspire 1 raises both together, as they're attached to one another.
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While the full-resolution video is recorded onboard, a 720p video feed is transmitted from the camera up to a distance of 1.7 km (one mile), and can be viewed in real time on an app on the user's iOS or Android mobile device. That app also allows them to start and stop recording, and manually adjust the camera's settings. The camera can also be controlled via dials on the radio remote-control unit that's used to control the aircraft itself. If users wish, an optional second controller can be used by another person, just to run the camera – this means one operator won't have to concentrate both on flying the quadcopter, and on panning and tilting its camera.
Like the Phantom, the Inspire 1 uses an onboard GPS unit to maintain its positioning outdoors. More like Parrot's AR.Drone, however, it also features a downwards-facing ultrasonic sensor and stereoscopic camera, which allow it to maintain its positioning while indoors.
Power is provided by a new 6-cell 4,500mAh battery, that provides approximately 18 minutes of flight time – this is actually a little shorter than the newer Phantom models, which manage around 25.
The Inspire 1 weighs 2.9 kg (6.5 lb), has a maximum horizontal flight speed of almost 50 mph (80 km/h), and can take off and land automatically. It was officially announced late yesterday and is available now for pre-order, with prices starting at US$2,899 – that's definitely more than any of the Phantom models, but still below the cost of most multicopters designed specifically for use by film and television professionals.
You can see footage shot with it, in the video below.