Xiaomi, a popular Chinese electronics company, more known as a smartphone manufacturer, has launched its own take on the drone, with a promotional video regarding the release of the Mi Drone, an affordable drone with all the bells and whistles we have come to expect.
The Mi Drone
The drone is a quad-copter, with a 4k camera attached, operated via remote control, with a 360 degree viewing spectrum. Customers will be able to use their Mi smartphone as a necessary ability to pilot their new toy. The camera has a Sony 12.4-megapixel sensor to capture video and RAW photo ability. It has a detachable gimbal which has the ability to correct itself two thousand times every second and an optical flow sensor.
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Two antennae allow you to have control of the drone up to two kilometers away.
The quad-copter is easily dismantled to allow individual parts to be serviced or repaired, so the camera module and all individual rotors are able to be detached easily.
The battery, 5100mAh, which is has a stated life of around 27 minutes, is also easily chargeable or replaceable.
The controller, which has a slight bunny rabbit resemblance (no coincidence as the bunny is the company mascot) is designed to be very easy to use. There is a dedicated take off and land button, just a short press or long press respectively, will get your drone in the air and back to earth safely. There is also a ‘return home’ button that will bring the drone back, but to avoid losing the drone this homing device will also activate automatically when the battery is running low on juice or the drone has lost contact with the controller.
All the usual drone features, including circling and filming a particular point of interest, following a predetermined course, and flying straight to a point of significance, are present. Unfortunately the drone does not have the hoped for ‘follow me’ feature that is especially popular among extreme sport junkies.
Xiaomi is releasing two versions of the drone, as well as the one containing a 4k camera; there is a cheaper, 1080p option. The 1080p option also has a shorted range of operation, one kilometer instead of the two capable from the 4k option.
Xiaomi has always prided itself on affordability, and these drones are no different. Lei Jun, the companies CEO said, “we want everyone to be able to afford good products. That was why I set up Xiaomi in the first place.” The 4k version will be available for 2,999 yuan (just under $460 at today’s exchange rate) and the 1080p version will cost you 2,499 yuan (just over $380).
Before you run to the bank to get some money though, these are not commercially available just yet. The 1080p version will be crowdfunded using the Mi Home App starting on Thursday 26th May, and the 4k version will begin beta testing in July. The company has been non-committal on when (or if) the drone will be available outside of China in the near future.
Xiaomi began its life as a smartphone manufacturer. The low price for the drone is part of its attempts to break into this lucrative market that is estimated to reach $20 billion by 2020. Like most of their products, they do not actually manufacture the product themselves, that is outsourced to another Chinese company, Flymi (for now). The company has also recently looked to continue their diversification by adding air and water purification devices, rice makers and a smartwatch for children, for other sources of revenue.