New gear from DJI will equip you with everything you need to become the best first-person drone racer that’s ever graced the Earth — you’ll be the Anakin Skywalker of FPV drone racers. The company is launching a new suite of products specifically to make the most of Digital First Person Viewing (FPV) when operating drones, with a wide range of compatibility.
The DJI Digital FPV Ecosystem includes a set of FPV goggles, a transmission unit that you attach to your drone of choice, a camera that also attaches to the transmitter unit and the drone body and an FPV controller. Together, they provide the “first low latency HD video transmission signal,” according to DJI, with total end-to-end latency of just 28 milliseconds, per the specs, and the ability to transmit 720p footage at 120fps with that low-lag transmission.
There are a few key ingredients here that are tuned specifically to the needs of drone racers: low latency is important because you want the video feed to be as real-time as possible when you’re racing high-speed drones around courses with tight turns and a field of airborne competitors you can potentially run into. And high-quality speed, with a high refresh rate for the video, is important for similar reasons — you need to “see” accurately from the perspective of the drone in order to race it effectively.
The system can also transmit at a distance of up to 2.5 miles, and there are eight channels of 5.8GHz wireless frequency supported by the Air Unit so you can fly as many as eight drones at the same time connected to a single system. Users can even change feeds on the fly when multiple units are in use, letting them take a look at the competition or just watch the race from an FPV perspective if they don’t actually have a drone in the running.
As for the camera, it offers a 150-degree field of view, and while the feed is optimized for action at 720p 120fps as mentioned, you can export video at either 1080p 60 or 720p 120 depending on your editing needs. The live video transmission also optimizes by first pixelating around the edges and keeping the center clear when it needs to increase broadcast efficiency under heavy load and in sub-optimal connection conditions, so that the important part of the action remains in focus for racers.
DJI will be selling these in two packages, including a “Fly More Combo” that retails for $929 and an “Experience Combo” that will be $819, with the main difference being that you get the remote controller in the mix with the “‘Fly More” version.
The enterprise drone space has been heating up over the past couple years, but a startup in the entertainment drone space is raising the big cash now.
The Drone Racing League is in the process of raising up to $50 million from investors in a Series C round according to SEC docs published today. The startup has already raised over $26 million of that figure and is looking to secure additional investors to close out the rest. Investors in the new round appear to already include Lux Capital and RSE Ventures.
The company had previously raised $32 million in funding from backers including Sky, CRCM Ventures and Hearst Ventures. Drone Racing League closed a $20 million Series B in 2017.
The startup, as the name implies, is in the business of speedy drone racing. It was founded in 2015 with the goal of capitalizing on some of the excitement around the technology, while aiming to build out a league that captured the thrill of airborne Formula-1 racing.
We did a deep dive on the company’s efforts back in 2016 and the surrounding drone racing enthusiast space. The athletes fly custom-built hardware at 90 miles per hour in tourneys that take place at sites ranging from empty warehouses to professional sports arenas. Races have been broadcast on NBC Sports, Twitter, Sky Sports and FOX Sports Asia according to the startup.
We reached out to Drone Racing League for comment.