Many major players in the consumer drone industry have taken a beating in the last several months, and you can thank DJI for much of the upheaval.
We’ve lost 3DRobotics when it comes to producing consumer RTF drones; Alphabet shut down their Titan Project last month for delivering internet via drones to remote locations; Parrot recently laid off a third of its personnel; Autel let almost all of its sales and marketing staff go this month; GoPro suffered a recall, and a sluggish relaunch, of its Karma drone; and Lily Robotics shuttered and declared bankruptcy under allegations of fraud.
Sitting at the top, and indirectly (and often directly) responsible for the woes of these and other industry players, is DJI.
3DR’s Solo had trouble competing with DJI’s Phantom 3 (among others); Parrot’s Bebop similarly has had trouble against DJI’s Phantom 3; and Autel has been hit hard in a head-to-head between their X Star and DJI’s Mavic and Phantom drones.
GoPro’s rereleased Karma will face an uphill climb for ground against the DJI camera drones just mentioned, and even Lily, a company that was trying to position itself somewhat outside of the consumer battle with a selfie drone that would follow and shoot automatically, would have faced trouble from DJI and their Zenmuse camera line.
Even the Titan Project may have faced internal pressure against creating their own hardware when companies like DJI are releasing drones for almost any application imaginable at lightning speed and reduced costs.
So why does DJI dominate?
There isn’t one single reason. Rather, a powerful combination of pricing strategy, marketing power, extensive distribution channels, and strong internal manufacturing and R&D have allowed them to be there first for many new needs and applications in the industry. And when they aren’t there first, they simply drop prices to beat out established competitors.
In December DJI released a new camera created just for cell tower inspections, the Zenmuse 30. This week, just a few months later, they rolled out the Matrice 200, which has been designed to dominate drone enterprise applications.
The Matrice 200
The Matrice 200 was launched this week at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
It’s a tough, rugged drone made for flight in rain and other inhospitable conditions.
Capable of carrying twin high-grade cameras in addition to the built-in FPV camera, and rugged as all get out, with the release of the Matrice 200 it’s clear DJI has its sights set squarely on enterprise-level industrial applications, such as inspections, mapping, and surveying.
The Matrice 200 is also well-equipped for public/government sector applications, such as search & rescue in rain or other harsh weather, or firefighting scenarios in extreme conditions.
As an industrial tool, the Matrice 200 is rated IP (Ingress Protection) 43, which means that it’s waterproof and can fly in the rain just fine. It can also fly in sub-zero temperatures, with a heating system that kicks in to keep the batteries and sensors warm when under freezing conditions(say what?!?).
The M200 has a closed-shell body, which allows for added portability and ease-of-use, and also means that it can be knocked around without breaking.
Like we said—tough.
Image source (for both of the above images)
A suite of 20 sensor units in the Matrice 200 includes dual inertial measurement units (IMUs) for redundancy, plus an ADS-B receiver, which keeps the drone and its pilots informed about any manned aircraft activity in the area.
And, with just the inbuilt FPV camera attached, its total flight time is an impressive 38 minutes. When a payload is attached that time dips down, but is still pretty great at 35 minutes.
The Matrice Line and the M200 Series
The M200 series has three individual models.
The baseline M200 offers a single downward-facing gimbal mount; the M210 features a pair of downward-facing gimbal mounts as well as a top mount for filming objects overhead; and the top-of-the-line M210 RTK offers the same mounts as the 210 but also incorporates two RTK (Real Time Kinematics) modules for “millimeter-precision navigation” (according to DJI).
There are also several other drones in the Matrice line. The main difference between the M200 Series and the rest of the Matrice line of drones is its closed-shell body, which brings added portability, ease-of-use, and ruggedness; in addition, the M210 models can easily accommodate multiple payload configurations, something not previously seen on any drone.
DJI’s Strategy: Diversify and Conquer
As we noted in the intro, DJI has a knack for seeing industry opportunities and going after them aggressively.
We wrote back December about DJI’s strategy around giving a separate name to their camera line, the Zenmuse.
Unlike all other drone manufacturers, DJI decided to give a separate name to the cameras that come on its drone, thus diversifying the branding for their drones and their cameras, and allowing both for cross-promotion and for the perceived value of their cameras to grow separately from the perceived value of their drones. Pretty smart.
Another reason DJI is winning, of course, is that they’re willing (and able) to cut prices to a point that almost no competitor can, and they don’t mind if they’re releasing new drones too fast for even their own good.
As DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg has said, now somewhat famously, about their aggressive price reductions and lightning fast release cycles: “If that pricing cannibalizes our own products, that’s OK.”
More Pictures of the Matrice 200
Want to see more pictures of this bad boy? Here you go.
Note: All of these images are from the DJI website.