DJI and the new frontier of drone racing


DJI has entered the world of drone racing with its new FPV system, but it has not yet released ready-to-fly drones specifically designed for racing.

When DJI announced in July a new event in which new products would be presented, it was expected that finally a new drone would be revealed to the world. It has been over one year since its last release, the DJI Mavic 2 with its versions Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. The event proved to be yet another false alarm, no new DJI drone was presented, no Spark 2 and no Mavic Air Mini. Instead DJI presented a digital DJI FPV system specifically designed for racing drones. For many a disappointment, but as we will see a smart and bold move to an innovative product that could create an exciting new hobby.

dji fpv

What are drone races?

Drone-racing is a sport in which radio-controlled drones (generally quadricopters) are driven on short high speed routes.

Pilots drive using the drone’s point of view wearing FPV glasses that show a live image transmitted by a state-of-the-art on-board camera, opening up a new world of unparalleled flight experience.

Drone-racing doesn’t just have to be staged in stadiums. You can compete almost anywhere, transforming your park or garden on a track with the right equipment and a little imagination.

However, it is important to fly responsibly and observe the drone-racing laws. This includes flying no more than 120 meters above the surface and staying well away from aircrafts, airports and airfields.

One of the most interesting things about drone racing is the speed of the drones, with some of the best pilots in the world who drive quads through 3D routes at speeds of up to almost 200 km/h.

What is the new DJI FPV system?

Instead of making a drone ready to fly, DJI produced the DJI FPV system consisting of components that allow digital transmission between the camera and the remote control

Racing drones are designed to be fast and agile which is why the latency time constitutes a a basic parameter for piloting one of these drones. In order to obtain a low latency, analogue systems with low resolution have been made, enough to allow proper drone guidance but sacrificing experience. Not exactly a great FPV. With the DJI FPV system, you no longer have to sacrifice the FPV experience to drive a drone.

The number of drone races is growing fast and new drivers are appearing every day, but there is also a boom in demand in the world of videography for FPV drones. Talented FPV drones pilots are putting their skills to work by making spectacular videos go viral, shooting videos in the Formula Drift or even shooting ads for Kohl.

DJI’s strategy in the drone racing world

Designing a product that makes it easier to draw on this trend makes sense, especially with the experience of DJI in creating of small cameras and drones capable of capturing high quality footage.

For DJI, who revolutionized the world of drones with the release of the Phantom RTF, i.e. ready to fly or rather almost ready to fly, as far back as January 2013, what would the costs of producing a ready to fly racing drone be? Why haven’t they done it yet?

With this product, DJI has officially entered into the fabulous world of racing drones, and did it so on tiptoes, with respect for what this niche of pilots and assemblers represents. In the beginning even consumer drones were practically unknown and required uncommon assembly and piloting skills. Then came DJI, entered this world by force, and surpassed its competitors in no time. Now consumer drones are ready to fly and have multiple drive automatisms, functions, sensors and various other automatisms. This has also brought on some consequences, both positive and negative. The problem is, people are want a drone but aren’t willing to put in the time to learn ho to maneuver it safely. During a remote assistance session it is not infrequent to hear “Somehow I managed to turn it on, now I can’t turn it off anymore, can you tell me how to do it?”

A racing drone requires driving ability and passion; a true racing drone pilot loves to study and practice again and again, and must know how to build and repair drones too. With a speed of almost 200 km/h and manoeuvres to the limit, even the most experienced get a crash every now. The pilot must know how to assemble the drone, thus avoiding having to spend large sums to get it repaired. The excitement of building one’s own drone is priceless: it can be personalized, modified, updated… you hardly get bored! How many of you have spent considerable sums of money on a ready-made drone only to use it for a few initial flights?

Can you learn to drive a racing drone on your own?

Years ago it would have been difficult, but by now you simply have to surf the Internet, search on Google or on Youtube to find a huge number of courses and resources. You can learn to play the guitar, the piano, learn English, and why not, even how to build a racing drone yourself. Many have documented online the various procedures related to videos and photos. Yes, the process also requires welding, but even for those there is certainly no shortage of lessons and therefore is not a valid excuse to give up!

See this video to get an idea of what it’s like to assemble a racing drone:

DJI with the products of the category DJI FPV already provides us with several components.

The DJI FPV Fly More Combo contains the DJI FPV Goggles, the Air Unit with the camera and the remote control.

We also find the frame TransTEC LASER HD, the T-Motor propellers T5143S, the T-Motor F40 PRO III engines KV2400, the T-Motor F55A PRO II + F4 HD STACK. In the future DJI may also release other components to simplify the process of building your own racing drone.

Compatibility with ready-to-use drones

If you want to experience the thrill of FPV flight without assembling and building anything, numerous ready to use DJI drones are available, preconfigured and compatible with DJI FPV glasses.

The Mavic 2 is available in two versions: Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, both compatible with DJI Goggles and DJI Goggles RE with the latest firmware update. Both drones can be connected to the DJI Goggles using OcuSync transmission technology, which offers an incredible 1080p live feed. Users can also enable Sport mode to enjoy FPV flight at speeds up to 72 km/h.

The DJI Mavic Air is another DJI drone that can offer you an immersive FPV experience. Since it doesn’t include OcuSync, you’ll need to use a micro USB cable paired with an OTG USB cable to connect it to the DJI Goggles or DJI Goggles RE.

The DJI Spark is a mini drone that can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h in Sports mode. It can be easily paired with DJI Goggles (requires a USB cable).

For beginner pilots who want to learn the basic art of drone piloting, the Tello is small, fun and affordable. Although not compatible with DJI Goggles, Tello is the perfect FPV drone for beginners who want a ready to fly experience when paired with a VR Headset for smartphones.