DJI Releases Matrice 3D and Dock 2—But Only in China for Now
BY Zacc Dukowitz15 November 2023
The Matrice 3D first appeared alongside leaked images of the DJI Mini 4 Pro a few months back.
👉In addition to the test flight of the DJI Mini 4 Pro, a test flight of a new industrial drone has also been revealed. In this video, you can clearly see the camera unit like on the Mavic 3T. That’s all for now)#djimini4pro pic.twitter.com/hzZPA9ahS8
— Igor Bogdanov (@Quadro_News) August 19, 2023
At the time, it was just called a new industrial drone, or intriguingly the “mystery drone” since no one knew what it was. (Some speculated that it was a souped up Mini 4 Pro, which was confusing because it clearly weighed more than 250 grams.)
Eventually, the big drone was revealed as the forthcoming Matrice 3D, the newest drone in the Matrice line—and now it’s finally launched.
The Matrice 3D Credit: DJI
The catch? It’s only available in China right now.
Along with the Matrice 3D, DJI has launched the next generation of its Dock, the Dock 2, which is also only available in China. The two are being sold as an enterprise package.
Because of the limited launch, DJI hasn’t made promotional materials available in English. But we did find this launch video from Portuguese YouTuber XDrones VFX (which has no English subtitles, unfortunately):
Everything We Know about the Matrice 3D and the Dock 2
The Matrice 3D is even smaller than the Matrice 30, with a smaller airframe that is specifically designed to accompany the smaller Dock 2. (The Dock 2 is significantly smaller than the original Dock—scroll down to learn more about the Dock 2.)
The new Matrice 3D comes with two cameras—a telephoto zoom and a wide-angle. It can also be equipped with a thermal camera, in a version called the Matrice 3TD.
Here are the main specs for the M3D:
- Weight. 3.1 pounds.
- Wide-angle camera. 4/3″ CMOS; equivalent focal length of 24mm; 20MP; and mechanical shutter.
- Telephoto camera. 1/2″ CMOS; equivalent focal length of 161mm; 12MP.
- Flight time. 50 minutes.
- Transmission range. 6.2 miles.
- Max speed. 47 mph (in Sports mode).
- Max wind resistance. 26.8 mph.
- Weather resistant. IP 54 rating.
Pricing for the Matrice 3D starts at about $9,615 (¥ 69,999). The Matrice 3TD starts at $10,713 (¥ 77,999).
The DJI Dock 2
As we mentioned above, the new DJI Dock 2 is much smaller than the original Dock.
Here are the main specs for the Dock 2:
- Weight reduction. Weight reduction to 75 pounds, or 68% of the original Dock.
- Size reduction. Size reduction of 75% compared to the first Dock.
- Faster deployment. Deployment time reduced by 2.5 hours—now 30 minutes to deploy vs. 3 hours with the first Dock.
- Weather resistant. IP rating of 55.
- Fast charging. Can charge 20% to 90% in 32 minutes.
- Dual RTK. Comes with dual RTK antennas, helping drones in flight get accurate positioning for return landing.
- Image transmission. Image transmission via O3 Enterprise Edition.
What Will the Matrice 3D and the Dock 2 Be Used For?
DJI’s Matrice series is a go-to line for several commercial applications, including law enforcement and inspections.
Historically, Matrice drones are big, solid platforms. When you look at them you think: That thing could withstand some serious weather. These are the flagship drones in the series—the M210, and more recently the M300 and the M350 RTK.
The Matrice 350 RTK | Credit: DJI
But the launch of the Matrice 30 changed all of that. The M30 was a small, portable version of the Matrice, and it came out along with the DJI Dock.
In many ways, the M30 was a piece of technology in search of a market. As we’ve heard from experts at MFE Inspection Solutions, when the Matrice 30 launched it was a drone that no one really needed. There were already small drones on the market that were made to do industrial work, and the bigger Matrice drones could execute the commercial work they were made for just fine without the need for a smaller version.
Further, given regulatory limitations, the Dock was more of a concept product than something people could actually use. That’s because flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), which would be required for the autonomous operations performed with a drone-in-the-box, are still prohibited in the U.S. without special permission.
So now we have the Matrice 3D and the Dock 2, the next generation of this new offshoot in the Matrice line. And we still have the same issues that were found with the Matrice 30—that is, it’s still unclear who actually needs a small Matrice or who might actually operate the Dock 2.
Brendan Schulman, former VP of Policy at DJI, weighed in recently on the topic:
That would make sense. No market in the US or EU. https://t.co/PIQucGMY5s
— Brendan Schulman (@dronelaws) November 8, 2023
Despite these criticisms, the truth is that DJI has deep enough pockets that it can afford to release products only to grab the imagination. In many ways, the Matrice 3D and its accompanying dock are products made to hold mindshare in the commercial drone market.
As docks and drone-in-the-box solutions become commonplace, DJI will have a product line that exists in that space. And it could be that regulations will eventually catch up with the technology, and DJI may actually find a market in the U.S. and elsewhere for these products.
But for now, we can just look at the pretty pictures. And they are quite pretty.