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DJI Introduces the Zenmuse XT S, A New High Frame-Rate Thermal Imaging Camera for the M200 Series

BY Zacc Dukowitz
2 January 2020

DJI recently unveiled the Zenmuse XT S, a new model of their thermal imaging camera, the XT.

dji-zenmuse-xt-s
The Matrice 200 in action

The new XT S is made just for DJI’s Matrice 200 series, which are professional drones made for high-end commercial applications.

By offering Matrice 200 Series and Matrice 200 Series V2 pilots the ability to capture thermal data that is invisible to the human eye, the Zenmuse XT S will help introduce drone technology into more applications . . . thermal imagery enables drone operators to see through smoke or fog, locate missing persons at night, identify overheating electric elements, and more.

– Christina Zhang, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy at DJI

How do thermal cameras work?

Thermal imaging translates thermal energy (heat) into visible light so that heat can be viewed by the naked eye.

thermal-drone-comparison
Example of an image created by a thermal camera

What are thermal drone cameras used for?

A thermal imaging camera attached to a drone might be used in an inspection scenario to see where a powerline or building is leaking heat in order to identify places where repairs might be needed. It could also be used in search and rescue to help find a person missing in the woods by locating their body’s heat signature.

Check out the last section in this article for a longer list of thermal drone camera applications.

What’s New in the Zenmuse XT S?

Similar to the XT and the XT2, the XT S has an infrared thermal imaging sensor with high thermal sensitivity that provides high-quality resolution for clear, detailed thermal imaging.

One of the primary differences between the XT, XT2, and the XT S is that the S is only made for the Matrice 200 Series while the XT is compatible with the M100, M200, and M600, and Inspire 1 and the XT2 is compatible with the M200 and the M600.

This limited compatibility could mean that the XT S will be less expensive than the other two models. DJI doesn’t say so explicitly, but seems to imply that this might be the case in the press release in which they announced the XT S:

The Zenmuse XT S will make high resolution and frame-rate thermal imaging cameras more affordable and accessible around the world.

DJI

Other than compatibility and possible price point differences, the release does not elaborate on how the S will differ from other XT models.

[Wondering how the Zenmuse XT stands up against the Anafi Thermal and the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual? Read this comparison article to find out.]

More About the Zenmuse XT S

DJI says they’ve created the XT S in response to “an increased demand for thermal imaging drone solutions,” which seems to position it as a thermal camera for mainstream use in various applications.

The new XT S comes with a radiometric sensor that captures temperature data on each picture it takes.

When these pictures are stored in R-JPEG file formats they can be analyzed later using the DJI Thermal Analysis Tool software to adjust parameters such as emissivity and reflected temperature for a more detailed inspection report.

XT S Specs

Here are a few of the XT S’ key specs:

  • 19mm lens
  • 640×512, 25Hz refresh rate radiometric sensor
  • 2x and 4x digital zoom capabilities

XT S Features

The XT S streams a live view of thermal data directly to the pilot’s mobile device via the DJI Pilot app. Pilots can then use the app to access several features created to make the thermal data the camera collects more useful and actionable:

  • Spot Meter. Tap a point for real-time temperature measurements.
  • Area Measurement. Select an area to get the max, min and average temperatures.
  • Temp Alarm. Get notified when an object’s temperature exceeds a pre-set limit.
  • Color Palettes. Adjust the colors applied to thermal data.
  • Isotherm. Select how colors are distributed across a specific temperature range.

How do you buy the Zenmuse XT S?

The Zenmuse XT S is for sale right now through authorized DJI Enterprise dealers in select regions. If you’d like to learn more here is a map of DJI Enterprise dealers.

DJI has not publicly shared the price of the XT S.

Thermal Drone Applications

Aerial thermography has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and so have both the potential for making money doing it and the types of applications where it can be used.

A drone equipped with a thermal camera can be useful in several industrial scenarios, as you’ll see in the list of applications below, but it also has many humanitarian and societal benefits as well.

thermal-drone-comparison-fb

Here are some of the primary applications using drones with thermal cameras today:

  • Power line inspections
  • Solar panel inspections
  • Search & rescue
  • Precision agriculture
  • Fire fighting

[Check out our list of the top seven thermal cameras for drones.]

Excited about the release of the Zenmuse XT S? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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