Autel Dives into the Commercial Market with the EVO Max 4T
BY Zacc Dukowitz11 January 2023
Last week at CES 2023 Autel launched a new drone called the EVO Max 4T, a foldable, rugged enterprise drone made for public safety, inspections, and other commercial applications.
With the Max 4T, Autel is making a clear commercial play aimed at carving out space for itself among some of the top industries using drones for work.
Up to now, Autel has been known for making consumer drones designed to compete directly with DJI, putting out drones like the EVO Nano, the EVO Lite, and the EVO III.
While it’s true that that Max 4T could be seen as a competitor with DJI’s Matrice 30, a smaller, heavy duty commercial drone, it’s much more than an M30 knockoff.
Take, for example, the Max 4T’s autonomy engine, which allows it to plan a 3D flight path through complex environments like mountains, forests, and buildings on its own. This autonomous path finding makes it a useful tool for applications like quick 3D scene reconstruction, public safety surveillance, industrial inspection, and land surveying.
The Max 4T also comes with meshing technology that allows you to fly several of them in a swarm and a triple lens camera, supporting zoom, wide angle, and thermal sensing.
The Autel EVO Max 4T is currently on preorder for $8,999 with the smart controller—keep reading to get all the details about what you’ll find on the Max 4T.
Specs and Features for the EVO Max 4T
The EVO Max 4T has several tools and features designed to support first responders and others doing industrial work.
These robust commercial features come in a foldable design, just like that found in other EVO models, making the drone more portable and compact than rugged commercial options like the Matrice 300.
Here are the EVO Max 4T’s main specs:
- Flight time. 42 minutes.
- Flight speed. 75 feet/second (23 m/s) max flight speed.
- Weight. 3.3 pounds.
- Triple lens. Has a triple-lens camera for wide, telephoto, and thermal sensing.
- Wind resistance. Can fly in winds up to 27mph.
- Transmission range. 12.4 miles.
- Ruggedized. Has an IP 43 rating, making it waterproof and dustproof to that rating’s specifications.
- GPS denied. Has the ability to fly without GPS.
- Obstacle avoidance. 720° advanced obstacle avoidance with no blind spots.
In addition to the drone itself, the Max 4T comes with the option of three add-ons:
- Autel Smart Controller V3. Comes with an integrated 7.9”, 2,000-nit display.
- Live Deck 2. Used to share mission data, allowing users to send video from the drone’s camera to displays or other devices wirelessly.
- RTK Module. Adds mapping capabilities of centimeter-level accuracy.
The EVO Max 4T’s Triple Lens Camera
The Max 4T’s nose-mounted camera module integrates a wide-angle camera, zoom camera, and thermal imager along with a laser rangefinder, making for an impressive combination of data collection capabilities.
Here are details for each one:
- Zoom camera. Supports 8K 10x optical zoom and 160x max, providing hybrid zoom that can capture details on targets as far as 1.24 miles away.
- Wide angle lens. Captures photos at 50MP and video at 4K 30fps with a max ISO 64000. Comes with Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 to enhance post-processing for capturing clear, detailed images in low-light environments.
- Thermal imager. 640×512 (0.3MP) high-resolution thermal imager with support for 30fps recording and up to 16x digital zoom.
- Laser rangefinder. Lets you determine the distance between the drone and an object for a distance of up to ¾ of a mile.
So which industries are these sensors made to support?
Inspections and search and rescue come first to mind.
Inspectors will benefit from the ability to use the zoom camera to get clear images while flying at a distance from the object being inspected, and the laser rangefinder will help with knowing how far the drone is from that object. The thermal camera will also benefit inspectors looking for energy leaking from a building.
For search and rescue, the ability to capture imagery in low light using the wide angle camera will be helpful, and the thermal imaging can help with looking for the heat signatures of missing people in obstructed environments and/or at night.
Here are all the applications Autel is focused on with the Max 4T:
Anti-Jam and Anti-Interference
Inspectors flying near cell towers will benefit from the Max 4T’s anti-jam and anti-interference technology.
While some drones get scrambled by the ultra-powerful transponders found on cell towers, the Max 4T can fly near them without interference.
Supporting this capability is SkyLink 3.0, a remote system that provides four bands, AES-256 encryption, and uses six antennas to keep a steady signal between drone and remote.
The Max 4T also uses advanced flight control modules and algorithms to combat RFI, EMI, and GPS spoofing, allowing it to fly reliably near power lines, critical structures, and complex areas where intentional jamming efforts may be in place.
EVO Max 4T’s Mesh Network Technology, A-Mesh 1.0
A brand new feature that comes with the EVO Max 4T is a new mesh system called A-Mesh, which Autel says is the first in the industry.
A-Mesh supports autonomy between multiple drones, allowing them to communicate, connect, and collaborate.
The mesh is flexible, so if a single drone fails or exits unexpectedly, the system self-organizes on its own to continue delivering critical information.
It also allows multiple drones to be autonomously controlled at the same time by one pilot or a group of pilots, with or without LTE coverage.
The EVO Max 4T is one of the most robust commercial drones we’ve seen come out in quite a while.
It will be interesting to see how much adoption it drives over the next year, and all the ways it gets applied as people start putting it to use in the field.