The 11 Biggest Drone Product Launches of 2021

BY Zacc Dukowitz
22 December 2021

2021 was one of the biggest years ever for drone product launches.

DJI alone released 4 drones, and several other companies made big launches, including Sony, which launched the first drone it has ever made.

Here are the 10 biggest drone launches we saw this year.

1. DJI’s Mavic 3

DJI - This is DJI Mavic 3

The Mavic 3 was one of the most highly anticipated drones of this year, and probably of all time.

The Mavic 3 is a lightweight, highly portable prosumer drone that comes with two high-quality cameras. Big picture, almost every aspect of it has been upgraded from the Mavic 2 Pro.

Specs & Features

  • Two cameras. A Hasselblad camera with a 4/3″ sensor and a Tele camera with a 1/2″ sensor.
  • Weight. 1.97 pounds (895 grams)—just a little less than the Mavic 2’s 1.99 pounds (907 grams).
  • Flight time. 46 minutes—a big upgrade from the 31 minutes you get with the Mavic 2 Pro or the Air 2S.
  • Speed. 47 mph—just a slight uptick from the Mavic 2 Pro’s 45 mph.
  • Range. 9.3 miles (15km)—almost double the 4.98 (8km) range of the Mavic 2 Pro.

The Mavic 3 Standard model sells for $2,199 or for $2,999 as part of a Mavic 3 Fly More combo. The Mavic 3 Cine model can only be purchased as part of a Premium combo, which sells for $4,999.

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2. Sony’s Airpeak S1

Sony unveiled its first drone ever this year—the Airpeak S1.

The S1 is made for high-end cinematography and can carry several different Sony Alpha cameras.

Specs & Features

  • Speed. 55mph (90kph) without payload. (Sony hasn’t yet shared the drone’s speed when it’s carrying a camera.)
  • Flight time. 12 minutes with a camera attached, 22 minutes with no payload.
  • Wind resistance. Up to 44.7 mph, or 20m/s.

The Sony Airpeak S1 sells for about $9,000.

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3. Wingtra’s WingtraOne Gen II

wingtra-blue-uas
Credit: Wingtra

The WingtraOne Gen II is a high-end commercial drone made just for mapping, and specifically for mapping cities, which Wingtra spent six years developing.

Specs & Features

  • Oblique camera. The Oblique Sony a6100 supports highly detailed 3D reconstruction by collecting extra data for mapping tricky vertical walls (just think of all the walls you’ll find in a city and you’ll understand the value).
  • PPK for high level of accuracy. The Gen II comes with a built-in multi-frequency L1/L2 PPK (Post Processed Kinematic ) GNSS receiver, providing centimeter-level accuracy for 3D modeling.
  • Multispectral payloads. The Gen II can carry the RedEdge sensor and the Altum sensor from MicaSense. Both sensors support the capture of 5-band multispectral data and the Altum also supports thermal data collection.
  • Predictive maintenance. Intelligent algorithms in the Gen II continuously analyze all critical flight components before and during the flight.
  • Smart notifications. Automatic notifications from the above alert you to maintenance issues before they become critical.
  • Remote ID ready. The Gen II comes with a WiFi module that ensures compliance with forthcoming Remote ID requirements in the U.S.
  • Landing accuracy. A new navigation and heading unit (NHU) improves GNSS accuracy and boosts the landing accuracy of the Gen II to about six feet.

The WingtraOne Gen II sells for about $22,000.

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4. The DJI FPV

DJI - Introducing DJI FPV

The DJI FPV is  a hybrid drone made for both cinematic FPV flying and for FPV racing.

Its release earlier this year was somewhat eclipsed by the launch of the Mavic 3, but it’s worth remembering that when it came out the DJI FPV was a big deal, in part because it was the first FPV drone DJI had ever launched.

Specs & Features

  • Camera. 4K/60fps Super-Wide 150° FOV with 120 Mbps + RockSteady Stabilization to ensure smooth footage.
  • Speed. 0-62 mph (100 kmh) in two seconds.
  • Transmission. DJI’s Ocusync 3.0 allows for 6.2 mile (10km) transmission range, with a video transmission latency of 28 ms and a video transmission bitrate of 50 Mbps.
  • Battery life. Up to 20 minutes.
  • New motion controller. It comes with an optional motion controller that lets you control the drone with just hand movements.
  • Immersive experience. Combining 6.2 mile (10km) HD Low-Latency Video Transmission and the new motion controller, you might feel like you’re actually flying through the sky yourself when you pilot the DJI FPV.
  • Adjustable lights. Front LEDs and aircraft arm lights come in customizable colors.
  • Safety. Emergency Brake and Hover allow you to stop on a dime and hover at any moment. Other safety features include an auxiliary bottom light, Smart and Low Battery Return to Home, and both forward and backward obstacle sensors.

The DJI FPV currently sells for about $1,299 (but this price may go up soon).

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5. DJI’s Air 2S

DJI - Introducing DJI Air 2S

The Air 2S is a high-value prosumer drone that provides a noticeable upgrade to the Mavic Air 2.

Like the DJI FPV and the DJI Mini 2, we knew almost everything about the Air 2S before it ever launched, mainly because it was accidentally stocked at a Best Buy ahead of its official release.

Specs & Features

  • Weight. 1.31 pounds (595 grams)—compared to 1.26 pounds (570 grams) with the Mavic Air 2.
  • Flight time. 31 minutes—compared to 34 minutes with the Mavic Air 2.
  • Transmission distance. 7.5 miles (12km)—compared to 6.2 miles (10km) with the Mavic Air 2.
  • Safety. The Air 2S will come with the AirSense system, which detects nearby manned aircraft with an ADS-B system. It will also come with two new obstacle avoidance sensors, which will be located on the front of the drone (see image below).

The DJI Mavic Air 2S sells for $999.

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6. Parrot’s ANAFI Ai

Parrot ANAFI Ai Launch Video

The ANAFI Ai is first drone to use 4G as the main data link between the drone and the remote control.

This means that the drone will have enhanced transmission capabilities, enabling precise controls “at any distance,” and that it can stay connected even when flying BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) and going behind obstacles.

Specs & Features

  • 4G-enabled. The ANAFI Ai works with any 4G network and SIM card, allowing drone pilots to use it with their existing cellular plan or with a prepaid SIM card.
  • Encryption and security. The remote control and drone are paired with 4G using what Parrot calls a Secure Element, proprietary data encryption that “protects both the integrity of the software and the privacy of data transferred.”
  • Camera. 48 MP main camera and a well-stabilized 4K 60fps / HDR10 camera that provides P-Log color profile and an HDMI output from the controller.
  • Gimbal. Extended tilt range of 90° straight up or down.
  • Autonomous flight. ANAFI Ai has autonomous flight capabilities, though it’s unclear exactly how extensive they are.
  • Onboard SDK. Open-source SDK (Software Development Kit) allows end users to customize the drone to suit their specific needs.
  • Obstacle avoidance. Uniquely designed obstacle avoidance system can detect obstacles in all directions using stereo cameras to sense and automatically avoid objects.
  • Remote controller. Comes with Parrot’s Skycontroller 4, which works with a phone or tablet.

The Parrot ANAFI Ai sells for $4,000.

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7. Hubsan’s Zino Mini Pro and Zino Mini SE

zino-mini-pro
The Zino Mini Pro | Credit: Hubsan

The Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is a small, inexpensive prosumer drone designed to compete directly with DJI’s Mini 2.

Along with the Mini Pro, Hubsan also released the Zino Mini SE this year, a drone designed to compete with DJI’s Mini SE.

Specs & Features for the Zino Mini Pro

  • Weight. 249 gram weight.
  • Flight time. 40 minutes max flight time.
  • Remote control distance. 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).
  • Camera. 4K/30fps  1080P/30fps video feedback + supports 4K video at 30fps.
  • Zoom. 6x digital zoom.
  • Tracking. AI-supported ATVT 3.0 tracking mode to improve accuracy.

Specs & Features for the Zino Mini SE

  • Weight. 249 gram weight.
  • Flight time. 45 minutes max flight time.
  • Remote control distance. 3.7 mile (6 kilometers).
  • Camera. 1080P/30fps video feedback + supports 4K video at 30fps and 2.7K at video at 30fps and 60fps.
  • Zoom. 3x digital zoom.

The Zino Mini Pro costs about $500 and the Zino Mini SE costs about $350.

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8. DJI’s Mini SE

dji-mini-se
Credit: DJI

News about the Mini SE first came out via a leak, when the drone was accidentally stocked at a Walmart.

The Mini SE is one of the most inexpensive drones DJI has ever made, making it a good entry-level model for those just starting to get interested in drones and aerial photography/videography.

Specs & Features

  • Weight. A little less than .55lbs (249 grams).
  • Flight time. 30 minutes.
  • Camera. 12MP photos and 2.7K HD videos.
  • Wind resistance. Can resist 19-24 mph winds at a max altitude of 1,300 feet.
  • Templates. The DJI Fly app provides a variety of Creator Templates that can be used with Mini SE footage for editing, allowing even beginners with no editing experience to create high quality videos.

The DJI Mini SE costs $289.

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9. Cleo Robotics’ Dronut X1

DJI - Introducing DJI Air 2S

The Dronut is the first bi-rotor ducted-fan drone, which means it’s the first drone built without exposed rotor blades.

Made for inspection work in rugged industrial environments, the Dronut concept was first unveiled two years back. Now it’s ready to ship, and it could soon begin to see serious traction for internal inspections and other commercial use cases.

Specs & Features

  • Size. 6.5” x 4”.
  • Weight. 15 ounces / .94 pounds.
  • Flight time. 12 minutes.
  • Speed. 13 feet/second.
  • Airframe. Made from light, rugged carbon fiber composite materials.
  • GPS-denied. Can fly in indoor locations where GPS is unavailable.
  • Collision tolerant. Can fly in confined spaces where collisions are more likely without posing a danger to itself or people in the area.
  • Sensor payload. Comes with a 4K camera, a 3D LiDAR sensor, and a Global shutter camera.
  • Easy to fly. Comes with autonomous navigation features powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon and an onboard LiDAR sensor.
  • Lighting. Equipped with LED headlights to enable visual data collection in low-light indoor environments.

The Dronut X1 costs $9,800.

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10. Flyability’s Elios 2 RAD

elios-2-rad
Credit: Flyability

Focused specifically on inspection-related work at nuclear power plants, the Elios 2 RAD is the first industry-specific drone that Flyability has ever released.

The RAD can carry three different dosimeters, each of which can measure different levels of radiation. Nuclear engineers can use this information to map and track the levels of radiation present in different parts of a nuclear facility, allowing them to collect radiation remotely without having to expose themselves to dosage.

Specs & Features

  • Radiation mapping. Using Flyability’s Inspector 3.0 software, nuclear engineers can use the Elios 2 RAD to map the levels of dose present in an area (as shown in the image above).
  • Collision tolerant. Like the Elios 2, the Elios 2 RAD is protected by a cage and comes with other collision-tolerance features that allow it to fly safely in confined spaces.
  • Dosimeters. The Elios 2 RAD carries three different dosimeters for collecting radiation data.
  • Visual sensor. In addition to the three dosimeters, the Elios 2 RAD comes with a high-quality visual sensor for collecting visual inspection data.

The Elios 2 RAD costs around $40,000.

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11. Autel’s Evo III, Evo Lite, and Nano Mini

These three drones from Autel haven’t actually been released yet. But they were leaked this year, so we thought it would be worth including them in this list.

In a leak that seems orchestrated by Autel itself, we learned about all three of these forthcoming drones back in September.

At a high level, the Evo III seems to be made to compete with DJI’s anticipated Mavic 3, the Evo Lite seems made to compete with the DJI Air 2S, and the Nano Mini seems made to compete with the DJI Mini 2.

Here’s everything we know so far based on leaked information.

Specs & Features for the Evo III

  • Flight time. 38-40 minutes.
  • Flight range. 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).
  • Obstacle avoidance. Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance.
  • Camera. There will reportedly be four versions, with four different cameras—the Evo III will have a 1″ CMOS sensor; the Evo III Pro will have a 4/3″ CMOS sensor; the Evo III Supersense will have a 1.4″ CMOS sensor; and the Evo III Zoom will have an 8K dual camera with 10x zoom.

Specs & Features for the Evo Lite

  • Flight time. 40 minutes.
  • Flight range. 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).
  • Obstacle avoidance. 3 directions (front, back, and down).
  • Special mode. ”Vertical shooting” mode allows you to switch between vertical and horizontal with one click.
  • Camera. 4K at 60FPS.

Specs & Features for the Nano Mini

  • Weight. Under .55 pounds (250 grams).
  • Flight time. 30 minutes.
  • Flight range. 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).

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