The Biggest Drone Product Launches of 2022

BY Zacc Dukowitz
21 December 2022

2022 was a huge year for drone product launches—DJI alone released six drones, including its first cinewhoop, the Avata.

Skydio put out its flagship Skydio 2+ along with its game changing KeyFrame mode, and Flyability released its first drone in four years, the Elios 3.

Here are the 11 biggest drone launches we saw this year.

1. The Skydio 2+

Introducing Skydio 2+ with KeyFrame

Skydio launched the Skydio 2+ right at the start of 2022, at the CES tradeshow. When the 2+ launched, Skydio said that it would now be the company’s flagship drone, replacing the Skydio 2.

The Skydio 2+ is pretty similar to the Skydio 2—it has the same controller, cameras, computing system, and airframe as the 2—but it does come with a much longer range and longer battery life.

Along with the launch of the Skydio 2+ the company introduced KeyFrame, a mode that lets you pick the key shots you want to capture along a flight path, the speed at which you want to fly, then push a button and have the drone autonomously collect the footage.

Specs & Features

  • Flight time. 27 minutes.
  • Max flight speed. 36 mph (fully autonomous).
  • Camera. Sony IMX5771/2.3” 12.3MP CMOS.
  • Weight. 1.8 pounds with the battery (1.1 pounds without the battery).
  • Transmission range. 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) with the Skydio 2+ Beacon Controller and 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) with the twin-stick Skydio Controller.

The Skydio 2+ Starter Kit sells for $1,099, and it’s currently on sale for $200 off.

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2. The DJI Avata

DJI - Introducing DJI Avata

The launch of the Avata marked DJI’s first foray into cinewhoops, which are fast, nimble drones made to shoot FPV fly-through tours.

Like most cinewhoops, the Avata is made for flying tight indoor spaces. One key feature that enables this type of flying is its built-in propeller guards for all four rotors, designed so the drone can collide with objects while flying and stay in the air.

The Avata also comes with Turtle Mode—if it falls on its back due to a collision, Turtle Mode allows it to resume flying without any manual intervention.

Specs & Features

  • Camera. 1/1.7” sensor that shoots video in 4K / 60fps and up to 2.7K / 120fps). 1080p/100fps video transmission quality: the lowest latency of 30 ms
  • Weight. About .9 pounds (410 grams).
  • Flight time. 18 minutes.
  • Sensors. The Avata’s prop guards help protect it from potential collisions, but it also comes with downward binocular vision and ToF infrared sensing to help detect and avoid obstacles below the drone.
  • Screens. Two 1080p Micro-OLED screens
  • Color mode. Comes with D-Cinelike color mode for advanced color grading in post-editing.
  • Transmission quality. The Avata has comes with 1080p/100fps video transmission quality via its O3+ video transmission and 2T2R omnidirectional antennas.
  • Transmission range. Max range of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).

The DJI Avata sells for $629 for the drone itself.

The Avata Fly Smart Combo sells for $1,168 and comes with DJI FPV Goggles V2 and the DJI Motion Controller and the Avata Pro-View Combo sells for $1,388 and comes with DJI Goggles 2 and also includes the DJI Motion Controller

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3. Flyability’s Elios 3

Elios 3 - Digitizing the inaccessible

This year Flyability launched the third generation of its indoor drone, the Elios 3.

Flyability is known for pioneering collision-tolerant drones made for operations in confined spaces. Its drones have a protective cage that allows the drone to collide while flying and continue operating unharmed, along with other features that let it survive impacts unscathed.

The biggest new feature with the Elios 3 is that it carries a LiDAR sensor, allowing it to create 3D models in real time, as the drone flies. These 3D models can be viewed on the drone’s tablet, allowing pilots to fly even in very dusty environments, when the drone’s visual feed is blind.

Specs & Features

Here are the biggest updates from the Elios 2 to the Elios 3:

  • New LiDAR sensor. The Elios 3 is equipped with a LiDAR sensor made by Ouster, which allows it to collect data to support the creation of detailed 3D models.
  • 3D Live Map. The Elios 3 is powered by a new engine called FlyAware that incorporates LiDAR and visual data to make it incredibly stable while in flight and supports the creation of 3D models in real time, while the drone is in flight.
  • Ease of use. The Elios 3 is reportedly so easy to use that pilots who have never flown before can pick up the controller for the first time and perform an inspection flight on the same day.
  • Modular payload. In addition to the LiDAR payload, the Elios 3 can carry a second payload, potentially making it a flexible platform for users to collect the specific types of data they need.

The Elios 3 sells for about $50,000.

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4. Teledyne FLIR’s SIRAS

Teledyne FLIR | Introducing SIRAS - Professional UAV

The SIRAS drone drew attention this year because it’s a high-quality commercial drone from a trusted brand that’s made in the U.S. and its target markets are public safety and industrial inspections—all factors that position it well to compete with drones like the Matrice 300 or even Skydio’s X2 series of commercial drones.

The SIRAS has an interchangeable payload, making it more useful for those who want to swap in specific sensors for their work.

Specs & Features

  • Speed. Max speed of 59 feet/second (40 mph) and default ground speed of 4 feet/second (13.4 mph).
  • Flight time. 31 minutes.
  • Front collision avoidance. A front facing radar senses obstacles at up to 98 feet away when flying at less than 16.4 feet/second.
  • Lights for night flying. Lights have red and white on/off & blink options.

The SIRAS sells for $9,695—about $4,000 less than the Matrice 300 RTK, which sells for $13,700.

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5. Autel’s Evo Lite+

Introducing: The EVO Lite Series

Autel launched the Evo Lite+ at the beginning of 2022, at the CES conference, in a launch of two drones that were apparently made to go head-to-head with DJI products.

The Evo Lite+, the first of those drones, was supposed to compete with the DJI Air 2S, and the Nano Mini was supposed to compete with the DJI Mini 2. Autel also launched the Dragonfish at the same time, a large professional VTOL drone with a max flight time of 120 minutes and two cameras that sells for a whopping $99,000.

Specs & Features

  • Flight time. 40 minutes.
  • Flight range. 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).
  • Transmission range. 7.4 miles (11.9 kilometers).
  • Obstacle avoidance. 3 directions (front, back, and down).
  • Vertical Shooting mode. Allows you to switch between vertical and horizontal with one click.
  • Camera. 4K/60FPS.

The Autel Evo Lite+ currently sells for $1,549.

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6. DJI’s Mini 3 Pro

DJI - Introducing DJI Mini 3 Pro

The DJI Mini 3 Pro may have been the most leaked DJI drone ever, which is saying a lot given how many leaks we see every time DJI is getting ready to launch a new product.

Before the Mini 3 Pro officially hit the shelves in May of this year we already knew everything about it, including that it would have longer flight time than the Mini 2 and that it came with several souped up camera features that would make it attractive for serious photographers.

Specs & Features

  • Flight time. 34 minutes or 47 minutes for an optional upgrade to the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus. (The Plus battery brings the drone’s weight above 249 grams.)
  • Weight. 249 grams.
  • Camera. 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor that shoots 4K HDR video at 60FPS and photos at 48 MP RAW.
  • Transmission. 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) with Ocusync 3.
  • Obstacle avoidance. Comes with two big obstacle avoidance sensors at the front of the drone and APAS 4.0 (Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems), an advanced obstacle avoidance system.
  • Zoom. 4x digital zoom allows for high quality shots from a distance.

The DJI Mini 3 Pro sells for $669 for the drone itself, $759 for the drone with the DJI RC N-1 controller, and $909 for the drone with the DJI RC controller.

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7. Skyfire’s S2 Drone

skyfire-sf2
The Skyfire S2 | Credit: Skyfire

Skyfire is primarily known for its consulting work with public safety agencies, helping them to build drone programs and secure waivers to do things like conduct Drone as First Responder programs.

But it also makes drones. And this year it launched the S2, a U.S.-made drone for public safety agencies that can carry multiple payloads and has a tough, resilient design for work in harsh environments.

Specs & Features

  • Weight. 10 pounds.
  • Maximum payload. 14 pounds.
  • Flight time. 45 minutes.
  • Maximum speed. 55 mph.
  • Maximum transmission range. Six miles.

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8. Teal Drones’ 4 Ship

Teal Drones Swarm Technology Test Flight [CONFIDENTIAL]

This year Teal Drones launched 4 Ship, a system that allows a single pilot to fly up to four of the company’s Golden Eagle drones at once. (The Golden Eagle is one of the first Blue UAS drones, which is a list of drones approved by the DOD for use by federal agencies).

4 Ship comes with both the drones and the software needed to fly them as a small swarm, which could be useful for a number of commercial applications, including industrial inspections and security/surveillance.

According to Teal Drones, 4 Ship is the first drone swarm product that’s ever been made available for consumers to buy.

We haven’t been able to find a price for 4 Ship, but we know that the Golden Eagle sells for about $15,000. So, if you buy a 4 Ship package that includes four Golden Eagles + the 4 Ship system, we imagine the cost could be anywhere from $70,000 or more.

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9. DJI’s Matrice 30

DJI Enterprise - Introducing the DJI M30 Series

In March of this year DJI launched the Matrice 30, a smaller version of the Matrice 300.

Along with the M30, DJI launched DJI Dock, a new docking station for the M30 to make it an autonomous drone-in-a-box solution, and FlightHub 2, an all-in-one cloud-based drone ops management platform.

The three products combine to create a full solution for first responders, inspectors, and a variety of other jobs done by commercial drone pilots.

Specs & Features

  • Flight time. 41 minutes.
  • Weight. 8.2 pounds.
  • Cameras. Wide and zoom cameras on the M30; wide, zoom, and thermal cameras on the M30T (see below for camera details).
  • IP rating. IP55 rating for dust and water protection (the M300 has an IP45 rating).
  • Wind resistance. 49 feet/second (15 meters/second).
  • Max speed. 75 feet/second (23 meters/second).
  • Safety features. Dual-vision and ToF sensors on all six sides of the drone + a three-propeller emergency landing feature (the M300 RTK also has this feature).
  • Transmission. OcuSync 3 Enterprise with triple-channel 1080p video transmission and seamless swapping between input feeds.

The Matrice 30 sells for $10,000 and the Matrice 30T (a version of the M30 that includes a thermal camera) sells for $14,000.

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10. DJI’s Series Launches—Alternate Versions of the Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro

DJI doubled down on its series approach to products this year, launching multiple versions of the Mavic 3 line and a new version of the Mini 3 Pro.

Here’s an overview:

Mavic 3 Enterprise

DJI Enterprise - Introducing the Mavic 3 Enterprise Series

The Mavic 3 Enterprise is a higher-end version of the Mavic 3 made for missions that require professional, reliable equipment. It can be purchased with a thermal camera upgrade.

  • Wide camera. 20 MP wide-angle camera with 4/3” CMOS sensor and a mechanical shutter.
  • Tele camera. 12MP camera with 56x hybrid zoom and an Equivalent Focal Length of 162mm.
  • Flight time. 45 minutes.
  • Obstacle avoidance. Wide-angle lenses on all sides of the drone and APAS 5.0 provide omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, making it possible to have zero blind spots.
  • Transmission. DJI O3 Enterprise transmission.

The Mavic 3E sells for $3,810 for a basic combo. The price goes all the way up to $7,740 for the most advanced combo, which includes a thermal camera.

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Mavic 3 Classic

DJI - Introducing Mavic 3 Classic

The Mavic 3 Classic is a less expensive version of the Mavic 3, similar to the SE version we’ve seen in the Mini series.

  • Camera. 4/3” CMOS Hasselblad camera with 5.1K/50fps and 4K/120fps
  • Flight time. 46 minutes max.
  • Hovering time. 40 minutes max.
  • Transmission. O3+ transmission system allows for clear transmission up to 9.3 miles (15km), with a 1080p/60fps live feed.
  • Obstacle sensing. Omnidirectional obstacle sensing with APAS 5.0, including horizontal, upward, and downward obstacle detection.

The Mavic 3 Classic sells for $1,469 for just the drone, $1,599 for the drone with the DJI RC N-1 controller, and $1,749 for the drone with the DJI RC controller.

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Mini 3

  • Weight. 249 grams.
  • Camera. 1/1.3” CMOS sensor that can shoot in 4K HDR with dual native ISO.
  • Flight time. 38 minutes.
  • Wind resistance. Can fly in wind going 23 mph (38 kph).

The Mini 3 sells for $469 for just the drone, $559 for the drone with the DJI RC N-1 controller, and $699 for the drone with the DJI RC controller

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11. Snapchat’s Pixy Drone

snap-pixy-drone
The Pixy drone | Credit: Snapchat

The last drone on our list is noteworthy because it only made it about three months, and then was dropped as a failure.

Snapchat announced the launch of its first drone, the Pixy, back in May. And by August it had decided to stop developing it.

The Pixy sold for only about $250, and was billed as a small, autonomous flying camera you could use to get quick, cute aerial shots. The Pixy had filters you could use with it, just like the Snapchat app does.

Specs & Features

  • Weight. Super light at 101 grams.
  • Battery life. About three minutes, or five-eight flights according to Pixy.
  • Camera. Captures 2.7K video and 12MP stills.
  • Storage. Can store up to 100 videos or 1,000 photos locally on a 16GB drive.
  • Snapchat synching. The footage and photos you capture can be synced wirelessly to the Memories section of Snapchat, where they can be edited.
  • Auto-crop feature. Lets you turn horizontal footage into Snapchat’s vertical orientation, with the main subject centered in the shot.

Like other companies that have tried to enter the drone industry, Snapchat seems to have overestimated the interest it would find from a consumer market for an inexpensive selfie drone.

Although Snapchat isn’t alone (GoPro’s Karma drone failed quickly back in 2016, for example), it may be the fastest failure we’ve seen yet.

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