What will the next DJI drone be?


An interview with a Senior Product Manager

DJI fans are often wondering how it is possible that technology is advancing so fast and what amazing new features the next DJI drone will have. But let’s take a step back: how did DJI become the world’s leading producer of consumer drones in the first place?

DJI has not always been identified with consumer drones. Only after years of manufacturing and testing airborne systems, exceeding the limits of intelligent flight and prioritizing an excellent and safe user experience, DJI was able to create products such as Phantom, Mavic and Osmo. But behind every great product there is a team tirelessly searching for improvement.

So, what does the DJI team look like right now? What will the next DJI drone be? Senior Product Manager Paul Pan offers his ideas on how the company has gotten to where it is today. After six years at DJI, Paul shares the evolution of DJI products, the considerations the development team makes and the biggest challenges they had to overcome.

Leading the evolution of drones

Just by looking at DJI’s first products such as the Phantom and the Mavic we realize that drones have been getting smaller and smaller. Was that the plan from the start?

It’s not just about researching how to make smaller drones… is more about how to make them more convenient for users.

From object for hobbyists to daily instrument

Years ago, air drones consisted of normal cameras mounted on a quad. Later on, hobbyists built their customized drones from scratch. By building a ready-to-fly aerial camera that anyone can learn to operate safely, Paul and his team have helped to make drones accessible to everyone.

We are experts at taking something advanced and reducing it to something that any consumer can use.

Pushing the limits, one drone at a time

What considerations are made when creating a new drone?

In a nutshell: how can we improve what we have done before.

From the brainstorming process, Paul and his colleagues try to think about how they can further push the drone’s capabilities and whether current technology can support it or whether it is better to save the idea for the future.

We planned QuickShots as Orbit even before Phantom 3… the drone itself was not yet ready to see the world.

Killer of projects

Paul and his team are no strangers to challenges. Some may be so big that they lead to deleting an entire project. In fact, the Inspire was about to never see the light.

The Inspire was about to be written off. We were in a meeting and we were thinking, “Maybe it’s better to cancel this project because we really can’t solve this problem.”

Six years gave Paul plenty of time to see a constantly evolving company. He and his team have faced new challenges, developed new concepts and have been confronted with several failures. But in his experience, evolution is a process, transforming the impossible into something real. And after sharing it with the world, the next step is to start over again and see what the future holds.