DJI launches ‘foldable’ drone that can be fitted into a rucksack, and travel 7km at up to 65 km/h

Costing HK$7,759, company claims Mavic Pro can be unfolded and airborne within a minute

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 7:29pm

Shenzhen-based DJI, the world’s largest drone maker, has launched a new portable model that is says folds down to the size of a water bottle.

The “Mavic Pro” has four folding arms and propellers, allowing it to be fitted into a backpack or handbag, the company said.

It claims the new device, which will cost from HK$7,759, can be unfolded and airborne within one minute. DJI’s flagship Phantom 4 drone retails for HK$9,299.

Research firm Teal Group predicts global sales of civilian drones will soar to US$10.9 billion by 2025, up from US$2.6 billion for this year.

DJI last week opened its first store in Hong Kong, its third outlet following earlier openings in Shenzhen and Seoul, as part of a retail push to reach Asian consumers.

The Mavic Pro’s launch comes a week after action camera maker GoPro unveiled its first drone, the “Karma”, which can also be collapsed for easy transport. It retails at HK$6,300.

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi made its first foray into the drone market in May with the launch of its HK$3,350 “Mi Drone”, following the low price tactics the company had employed with its smartphones.

But Michael Perry, DJI’s director of strategic partnerships, has told the South China Morning Post it confident the company’s advanced technology developed over the past decade puts it in a strong position to fend off the recent entrants to the market.

DJI says the Mavic Pro has a 4K camera, a 7-kilometre range, up to 27 minutes of battery life and can be controlled by smartphone for short-range trips or by a special remote control for longer flights.

It is powered by a flight automation system which it says allows the device to avoid obstacles at speeds of up to 36 kilometres per hour (km/h). And in “Sport Mode”, the new device can fly at up to 65 km/h, and its “Active Track” mode allows users to track moving objects.

Other features include its “Terrain Follow” mode, which allows the drone to follow a subject up a hill while maintaining a constant height of one and 10 metres from the ground.

The company said the first buyers can expect to receive their Mavic Pros by mid-October.