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Drone News Roundup: DJI Launches the Mini 2, Flyability’s Elios 2 Tested at Chernobyl, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
13 November 2020

This week we’re covering the launch of DJI’s newest consumer drone, the Mini 2, after lots and lots of leaks—honestly, the Mini 2 may have been the most-leaked drone of all time.

We’re also covering a mission Flyability helped conduct at Chernobyl with its Elios 2 inspection drone, some thoughts on whether DJI might be working on a Phantom 5 and whether its release could be imminent, Zing Drones joining the FAA’s new BEYOND program, the drone light show featured prominently at President-elect Biden’s victory speech, and the FAA’s photo contest and ways to engage with it on social media leading up to Drone Safety Awareness next week.

Now let’s get to those links!

DJI Officially Launches the Mini 2

DJI - Meet DJI Mini 2

A few weeks back, a stocking mistake at Best Buy led to an unknown YouTuber buying a DJI Mini 2 before it had been officially released, and leaking almost everything there is to know about it. Now the new, much-anticipated consumer drone from DJI is officially out, and we can confirm that the leaked information was accurate—it does come with OcySync 2.0 and a 4K camera (two of the biggest changes from the Mavic Mini 1). The Mini 2 costs $449 and is on sale now at DJI.

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Flyability’s Elios 2 Used to Inspect a Nuclear Reactor at Chernobyl

Elios 2 Helps Researchers Inspect Reactor Five at Chernobyl

Researchers working to decommission the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant asked the Flyability team to test its Elios 2 drone to collect visual data inside Reactor Five, a nuclear reactor that had been under construction when the nuclear disaster took place there in 1986. In the last 33 years, no information has been gathered regarding whether Reactor Five actually contained depleted uranium fuel bars. Data collected by the Elios 2 showed that no nuclear waste was present inside the reactor, a significant finding for researchers. Flyabilty’s drones are often used to inspect nuclear power plants, helping improve safety and reduce plant downtimes, but this was the first time one had ever been used to help decommission a plant.

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Is DJI Working on a Foldable Phantom 5?

phantom-5-dji-patent
Photo credit: DJI

There has been a lot of speculation about whether DJI’s Phantom series might continue in the form of a Phantom 5, or whether it has been internally axed. A close look at the topic from DroneDJ points out that there have been several false alarms on the Phantom 5 front, with purported leaks fizzling into nothing. But a recent leak showing a picture taken of draft promotional materials for the Phantom 5 appears to be legitimate, reigniting debates about when we might see this much-discussed drone actually hit the consumer markets.

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Zing Drones Joins FAA’s New BEYOND Program

zing-drone-delivery-faa-beyond
Photo credit: Zing Drones

Zing Drones has reportedly become the first new partner in the FAA’s BEYOND program. The FAA launched the program just a few weeks ago to continue the work of the UAS IPP, announcing it the day after the IPP ended toward the end of last month. The BEYOND program has retained eight of the nine original UAS IPP partners (San Diego was the only one to drop out), making Zing Drones the first partner to join that was not previously part of the IPP. (Note: The FAA has not officially announced Zing Drones as a partner, although news of the partnership does seem credible.)

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The Drone Light Show at Biden’s Acceptance Speech and What It Might Mean for the Drone Industry

biden-drone-light-show
Signaling the new normal for large events, light show drones were used at the victory speech given by President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday night. The event was held at a drive-in rally in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. As traditional fireworks lit up the sky, light show drones were used to create a map of the U.S. and the words and phrases “Biden,” “Harris,” “USA,” and “46,” among others. According to speculation immediately following the display on the Twitter feed of Sally French (The Drone Girl), using drones in such a public way could signal a change in how the new administration views the ban on Chinese drones for federal use. This is just speculation, of course, but it is interesting to see the impression these light show drones made—read all the hot takes in the article linked below to learn more.

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Photo Contest for the FAA’s Drone Safety Awareness Week + Other Ways You Can Get Involved

faa-drone-safety-awareness-week

The FAA’s Drone Safety Awareness week is taking place next week, with virtual events planned for each day. To get involved, we encourage readers to check out the FAA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, on the official webpage for the event, and by reading the FAA’s social media toolkit for the event. You can also enter your best drone shot or photo featuring a drone in the FAA’s photo contest, called the National Drone Safety Awareness Week Photo Challenge—submission guidelines can be found here.

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