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Mavic 3 Rumors Spurred by New DJI Patents, Could also Hint at DJI Racing Drone in Development

BY Zacc Dukowitz
24 June 2020

Never one to slow down in the ongoing drone technology race, DJI recently filed several new patents with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).

The patents cover four different technologies—a new folding design for a drone, a magnet-enabled drone docking system, a new camera module, and an Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) system.

The last patent has been of the highest interest since buzz in the drone industry indicates that the new OIS system is being developed for the Mavic 3, which is rumored to be scheduled for release in September.

Some of the technology covered in the new patents has people speculating that DJI may be developing a racing drone, but this seems a lot less conclusive than the Mavic 3 rumor.

Let’s take a look at all four of DJI’s recent patents and what they might tell us about what the company is working on.

New Folding Design Patent

The new folding design patent from DJI is entitled “Deformable Frame of Aerial Vehicle and Aerial Vehicle” and features a novel way to fold a drone.

Image source: DJI

While each of the Mavic’s four arms can be folded individually, this new design folds the two arms holding the propellers together at the same time.

Also, instead of folding straight in/out or up/down, it looks like the arms will fold by pushing them forward and in, which accounts for the curve you see in the arms (see picture above).

In the unfolded state, [the] second ends of the deformable rods in the two arm assemblies are away from the center frame. In the folded state, the deformable rods in the two arm assemblies are stacked above the center frame. The aerial vehicle further includes a loading mounted on the center frame.

– Excerpt from DJI’s patent

Industry insiders have speculated that this folding design could be used for a new racing drone or for a third installment in the Inspire series (i.e., an Inspire 3).

Magnet-Enable Landing System Patent

A patent registered a little over a week ago reveals that DJI has designed drone docking technology that uses magnets to help a drone land in a specific location.

The patent is titled “System and Method for Landing a Mobile Platform Via a Magnetic Field” and includes this image:

Image source: DJI

Language from the patent makes it seem like the magnet-enabled docking technology wouldn’t just help the drone land in a specific spot, but could also help it hover above that location.

Docking is a big concern for drone delivery, especially in urban areas where there is no margin for error when it comes to where you land.

But docking is also becoming important in many different commercial drone scenarios. As drones become more autonomous, allowing for pre-programmed flights to collect aerial data in agriculture, security, and many other applications, technology that helps a drone to dock autonomously could be useful for a variety of reasons.

Camera Module Patent

A more recent patent from DJI describes a versatile camera module that looks like it will be usable on several DJI drones.

The module features a replaceable casing that can be easily popped off, allowing you to swap in a new camera with minimum difficulty.

Image source: DJI

The camera module can be tilted up and down using a servo and gear system. This feature has some speculating that the module could be meant for an FPV racing drone, given the common problem of needing to angle your FPV camera up while flying at high speeds.

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) System Patent

The biggest DJI patent news is about technology that describes an Optical Image Stabilization system.

Image source: DJI

The patent for the new OIS system shows a sensor and lens mounted on the same unit. Given that the module looks like it’s a similar size as that used on the Mavic 2, the patent’s release has led to speculation in the industry that DJI is developing an OIS sensor for the Mavic 3. (It could also be meant for a Phantom 5, but industry buzz indicates that the Phantom line will probably be discontinued.)

The new OIS system will help you shoot smoother video footage, and should also help with capturing still images in low-light situations calling for slow shutter speeds.

According to industry rumors, the Mavic 3 is slated for release in September of this year. Based on what we’ve heard, the new Mavic will be larger than the Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom and will come with:

  • An interchangeable lens system with OIS
  • 360 degree obstacle avoidance
  • An MFT camera system

We expect to hear a lot more about the new Mavic 3 in the coming months, and we’ll make sure to share everything we learn.

What do you think—is the OIS patent meant for the Mavic 3? And is a racing drone in the works? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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