Wednesday, October 27, 2021

DJI fixed wing drone hits rumour control.

All over the forums, images of a purported DJI fixed-wing drone. Personally, I would be very surprised if they are entering the fixed wing world, that this is it.

Just not slick enough for me rather looks like somebody has bodged some DJI gear onto. Something from the XUAV factory. Or maybe HobbyKing.

A separate lift thrust is shown and there are plenty of very capable platforms already in that category. DJI would be moving into space not quite as easy to own.

No doubt they are considering fixed-wing aircraft. They must have users that are used to push button simplicity demanding longer flight times. Physics for the moment has caught up with multirotors. The popular DJI Matrice 600 cannot beat a simple TuffWing Mapper in the endurance stakes. You could also own several TuffWings for the price of a single Matrice. All of them could be flying an area simultaneously. For mapping a much better ROI.

Here in South Africa, we have the Alti Transition, it would be an order of several times more expensive than the alleged DJI machine being shown. I can use it to leverage a few points though.

Part of the reason for its expense is its capability, Tiaan from sUAS News has seen it fly for six hours with his own eyes. So that just knocked our TuffWing aside.

If you are going to try and beat a multirotor you have to step over flying wings to get to success. There is also some amazing new foam fixed-wing craft out there. The Believer is I think the best thought out Chinese mapping drone I have seen to date. I suspect it might be capable of 90+ minute flights with the all-important mapping payload. Do you really need the VTOL?

Call me fickle, most end users will think Transition just looks plain prettier than whatever it is the rumour promotes. DJI does not do ugly, I can’t see the machine in the pictures being something they might be proud of.

Let me not be too partisan, if I wanted a low cost off the shelf VTOL, to dabble with I think I would go for the Foxtech Nimbus at the moment.

It incorporates a feature that all the cool kids are rushing too, tilting motors. Seen them before you say, well this is a dodge to get around a problem that the AeroVironment Quantix and the Wingtra will have, tailsitter VTOLs blow over.

With this method, the wing stays flat for takeoff.

No blowing over, the same code is used in the more conventional Nimbus.

Let’s compare and contrast the Nimbus and DJI Thing.

The Nimbus seems to come up just short.

Item Name: Nimbus
Version: Tilt VTOL
Wingspan: 1800mm
Length: 1300mm
Max Flying Height: 3500m
Max Flying Speed:  >25m/s
Take-off Weight: 2.85kg(without battery)
Max Take-off Weight: 5kg
Max Payload: 700g

But where will the DJI Thing be when it comes to price, a complete Nimbus currently retails for $2,159.99

Maybe I am completely off the mark, perhaps this really is DJI’s fixed-wing offering, if it is well, meh. It can’t be from DJI, they are smarter than that.

A few more SLT’s already out there. Some great design considerations mentioned in the first video.


Gary Mortimer
Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.