Leisure Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

version française

UAVs 2020

Mavic Air 2 © les numériques

Mavic Air 2 remote control © les numériques

Mavic Air 2 sensors

The Mavic Air 2 has the design and some functions inherited of Mavic 2.

It has a camera mounted on gimbal 3 axes stabilized with a fixed focal lens equivalent 24 mm a f/2.8, a 1/2" "Quad Bayer" Cmos sensor (probably a Sony IMX586) of 48 Mpx to shoot photos in 12 Mpx or 48 Mpx and video recordings up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps. It has a flight autonomy of 34 minutes maximum, an Ocusync 2.0 link offering a very long range, DJI AirSense technology, many automated shooting modes.
It has an APAS 3.0 obstacle detection and avoidance system (Advanced pilot assistance system) based on 3 pairs of cameras (front, rear and under the aircraft) and two time-of-flight cameras (Time of Flight or ToF, to measure the distance between the drone and everything that is up to 8 m below it) but no side or top sensors. It inherited the FocusTrack function of Mavic 2 which allows it to automatically follow the subject that it is indicated on the screen.

It measures 180 x 97 x 84 mm and weighs 575g and is offered at $ 799 or $ 988 in a "Fly More Combo" kit with 2 batteries, a carrying case, a 3-battery charger and a set of 3 filters for the camera. (May 2020).

Skydo 2

Skydo 2 3D making

The Skydio 2 is the second version of the drone designed by former students of the prestigious MIT who notably contributed to Project Wing, the autonomous delivery drone designed by Google.

Thanks to its Nvidia Tegra TX2 graphics chip, its 6 cameras, each with a field angle of 200 degrees, the Skydio 2 is able of performing a 3D mapping of its environment by generating a 3D image of 45 Mpx in real time. and thus to calculate its trajectory completely autonomously ... and according to its manufacturer, to dispense entirely with piloting by the user.
The slogan of this drone is: "it does the flying, you do the doing".

For Photo, the Skydio 2 is equipped with a Sony IMX577 1/1.23" CMOS sensor of 12 Mpx with a 20 mm lens opening at f/2.8, mechanically stabilized on 3 axes and orientable downwards (- 110 degrees maximum) and upwards (+45 degrees), a sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 3200, a 4K video mode (UHD) at 60 fps maximum with or without HDR, the possibility of sequences in slow motion at 120 fps in Full HD (1080p).
The Skydo 2 is a compact with non-folding arm drone with a flight autonomy of 23 minutes maximum. It can withstand winds of 40 km/h and reaches a speed of 58 km/h and is more silent than its competitors.

It measures 22.3 x 27.3 x 7.4 cm and weighs 775 grams and is offered at $ 999 on the manufacturer's site (April 2020).

Camera Leica ION L1 Pro

Yuneec Thyphoon H3

After DJI who bought Hasselblad, it's the Chinese brand Yuneec that partners with Leica to offer the hexacopter Typhoon H3.
This professional drone is positioned between the DJI Inspire and the DJI Mavic Pro. It is a stable Hexacopter with 6 rotors with the possibility of activating the 5 rotor mode in the event of a rotor failure, retractable arms for easy transport, autonomy up to 25 minutes, retractable landing gear, intelligent automatic flight modes: Follow Me, Orbit, Journey, Curve Cable Cam, Return Home and Auto Landing modes. It also has a redundant control signal, obstacle detection, a Team mode for separate control of the hexacopter and the camera (additional ST16S required).
Thanks to the integrated 3-axis gimbal and the retractable landing gear of the drone, the camera can rotate 360 ° without limit and allows to take smooth panoramic photos.
In terms of data security, Yuneec indicates that its system is a closed system. All communication is done directly between the drone // camera and the ST16S remote control. There is no detour via a cloud solution. All data generated by the Typhoon H3 (photo, video and flight data) belongs exclusively to the customer at all times and can be saved, erased or managed by the drone operator without any restrictions.
The camera developed by Leica Camera AG is the Leica ION L1 Pro which includes a 1 "20 MP CMOS camera sensor which can also shoot up to 4K video at 60 FPS with a data rate up to 100Mbit. Images are saved in Jpg or DNG calibrated Leica with corresponding ADOBE profile, the camera has a digital lossless zoom, a 10-bit YLog video mode based on Leica specifications, a semi-automatic ISO / Trigger function,   Automatic exposure bracketing (AEB), a 1/3 level adjustment of EV / ISO / Shutter ...

The Yuneec Typhoon H3 with its Leica ION L1 Pro camera is offered at $ 2,600 (February 2020).

V-Coptr Factor of Zero Zero Robotics

Hover 2 of Zero Zero Robotics

In 2020, Zero Zero Robotics, a new American-Chinese company presented the V-Coptr which has only two tilting rotors instead of four. The tilting rotors are attached to the end of the arms which extend from the upper body of the drone and can be folded inwards when they are not used to form a compact unit of 8 , 7 x 5.9 x 2.7 inches, for a weight of 26 oz only. The autonomy of this drone is increased to 50 minutes thanks to a 4500 mAh battery and greater efficiency in the air. The V-Coptr is equipped with a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor allowing it to capture still images at 12 megapixels and 4K videos at 30 fps. The camera is stabilized on three axis to keep the video smooth. The range with video is 4.3 miles maximum.

Zero Zero Robotics also markets the Hover 2 which replaces the first Hover "Passport" version. This small drone weighs 490 grams and measures 23 x 17, 2 x 4.5 cm.
In photo, the “Autoframe” mode allows automatic framing to follow a person. In video, the flight modes reproduce effects used by cinema professionals, namely the “orbit”, “surge”, “ricochet” and “Reveal” modes. The tracking modes is improved and the Omni-follow tracking mode allows faster movement in several directions without losing tracking even in the event of an obstacle. Its AI allows him to guess where you will reappear and find yourself. This drone detects and avoids obstacles. Its camera, stabilized on 2 axes has a CMOS sensor of 1/2.3 inches and 12 megapixels and allows 4K, Full HD and HD videos but also 2.7K in 60 frames per second and Full HD (1080p) at 60 and 120 frames per second.

Mavic Mini

Unveiled Wednesday, October 30, 2019, the DJI Mavic Mini is the first new product introduced by DJI, for almost two years. The Mavic Mini is very small (it measures 16 cm long, once unfolded) and light. Its weight (249 g) allows it to be below the limit of 250 gr, which requires to report its drone to the civil aviation authorities (French DGAC) This threshold introduced by the American civil aviation, widely considered as an acceptable compromise, will be integrated into European legislation, in principle from mid-2020. Which will make obsolete the current French floor, of 800 gr.
The Mavic Mini can fly to a distance of 4 km from the pilot and has an automatic return system at its starting point with an autonomy of thirty minutes. It has a camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor of 12 million pixels that can capture up to 2.7K/30p or 1080/60p. It may be piloted from a smartphone, which is integrated into a remote control. It is available from $ 399 (October 2019).

According to the newpaper "Le Monde", If the pace of news falters, it's because drones do not become mass consumer goods like other high-tech family products. The outlook for previously uninterrupted sales growth has been brutally stopped. Highlighted by the very bad period that runs through Parrot, which is expected to dig 100 million euros of losses this year, the plummet of recreational drones rings the end of a cycle.
According to the panels formed by Gfk and NPD, the annual decrease (third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017) of model sales between 500 and 800 euros, located at the heart of the market, reached 33% in value on all major European countries (France, United Kingdom, Germany). In the United States, it reaches 56%. France is the only country where sales remain well oriented (+ 12%). This easily explains the drop in news for a market that may become a renewal market reserved for photo and video enthusiasts.

Parrot ANAFI

Mavic 2 Zoom and 2 Pro

Phantom 4 v2 Pro

The Chinese DJI firm dominates the market of leisure UAVs.
In July 2019, Parrot decides to exit toy (mass-market) drone market to shift its focus toward commercial and enterprise businesses with the Parrot Anafi Thermal with its FLIR Lepton® 3.5 radiometric thermal-imaging camera module to measure and reveal thermal differences.
The American specialist in 3D Robotics (or 3DR) professional UAVs has chosen to abandon the market of mass-market UAVs, just like GoPro after the failure of its Karma UAV.
DJI therefore races in the lead and in addition to developments in its professional UAVs have presented other public UAVs, lighter than 800 grams (see new regulations below).

The Parrot ANAFI is a folding UAV with a very special design that makes it look like an insect.
It has a 4K HDR camera with a CMOS sensor 1/2.4" of 21 Mpx with an hybrid stabilization. It can film in 4K Cine (4096 x 2160) 24p, 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 30p, 2.7K 30p and Full HD 1080 60p. It has an USB-C rechargeable battery that offers a range of 25 minutes, weighs 320 grams and has fun features.
It is available for $ 600 (October 2018).

DJI has updated its Mavic Pro with two models DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and DJI Mavic 2 Pro that differ only by their camera.
They share the same following technical characteristics: up to 31 minutes of flight (against 27 for the original Mavic Pro), 10 sensors to avoid obstacles in all directions, 8 GB of on-board storage, a downward-pointing auxiliary light system, a top speed in sport mode 72 km/h, a Hyperlapse mode, a video transmission with a boost and an update of OcuSync in version 2, which uses both the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies, all two now exceed 800 grams ...
DJI bought Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad.
The Mavic 2 Pro has a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 20-megapixel 1" CMOS sensor that has an active detection area four times more efficient than the previous Mavic Pro, a 28mm f.2.8-f/11 lens with Hasselblad's HNCS technology, a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile for greater dynamic range (up to 12800 ISO sensitivity), a 10-bit HDR video mode, and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) format support. Mavic 2 Pro has a weight of 907 grams.
The Mavic 2 Zoom has a 1/2.3" CMOS sensor of 12 megapixel and a 2X optical zoom (24-48mm and 2X digital to 96mm), a Super Resolution panoramic photo mode of 48 MP, all for a weight of 905 grams.
The Mavic 2 Pro is priced at $ 1449 and the Mavic 2 Zoom at $ 1249 (October 2018).

DJI also updated the Phantom 4.
The Phantom 4 v2 Pro is equipped with the OcuSync HD transmission system that supports automatic dual frequency band switching and connects to DJI Goggles and DJI Goggles RE wireless. It is a main feature of this model, the OcuSync HD transmission, already used on the Mavic Pro, increases the range of video transmission, which goes from 5 to 7 kilometers and improves the quality of the image, which goes from 720p to 1080p for video feedback.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has improved aerodynamics propellers, which can be mounted on the other Phantoms 4 models, and the ESC (new flow-oriented ESC) makes it possible to reduce the noise emitted by the aircraft (by 4 decibels) and to improve the stability and the handling of the aircraft in flight. It keeps the same 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor that can shoot in 4K at 60 fps and shoot continuously at 14 fps. In addition, the FlightAutonomy system includes two rear optical sensors and infrared detection systems for total 5-way obstacle detection and 4-way obstacle avoidance.
The Phantom 4 v2 Pro is priced at $ 1699 (June 2019).

DJI Mavic Air

DJI Spark

Parrot Bebop 2 Power

DJI ZenMuse X7

The DJI Spark is a mini UAV with HD camera and gesture controls but with flight autonomy of 15 minutes. It has a 720p video return, a 12 megapixel Full HD camera and an improved transmission range at 2 Km.
It is available with a bright color: white, blue, green, red or yellow for less than $ 400.

Parrot reacted by updating its Parrot Bebop 2 Power direct competitor of the Spark with a 12MP 1920 x 1080p Full HD camera, a range of 2000 meters, control by Skycontroller, Tablet or Smartphone and flight autonomy of 20 minutes.
It is available with remote control and virtual headphones at a price of $ 799.

The DJI Mavic Air is a compact UAV (168 × 83 × 49 mm) and lightweight 430 grams, between the Mavic Pro and the Spark, with folding arms and no compromise. It has a microSD port and 8GB internal storage, an advanced driver assistance system (APAS) that processes the data collected by the seven cameras and embedded infrared sensors, to build a 3D map of the environment allowing blow a more secure flight. It has a CMOS sensor 1/2.3 of 12 Mpx HDR and a lens of 24mm /f2.8 (35 format equivalent) and flight autonomy of 20 minutes.
Like the Spark, the Mavic Air can be controlled with gestures. It is proposed in red white or black for $ 800.

DJI is also positioned as a camera manufacturer. Its last camera, the Zenmuse X7 allows to acquire in 24p and 25p a 6K image (6016 x 3200) in DNG RAW Cinema at 30 fps, as well as a 4K/UHD image in Apple ProRes XQ.
The Zenmuse X7 has a Super 35 sensor (24.89 mm × 18.66 mm) and a new proprietary lens mount DL DJI offers 4 new DL mount lenses, built in carbon fiber that is significantly lighter. All lenses are opened at f/2.8: the 16mm embed an integrated ND filter and 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses have an internal shutter (up to 1/1000s) in order to limit the effects of rolling shutter or banding.
The ZenMuse X7 is delivered with DJI Inspire 2.

The ZenMuse X7 is priced at $ 2700 for the camera alone, $ 1500 for the 16mm, 24mm and 35mm. The 50 mm will be offered for $ 1400 and the 4 optics together for $ 5 096.

anti UAVs weapon

Nerod F5 rifle of MC2 Technologies

Unmanned aerial vehicles can pose a potential threat. Armies and the police forces equip themselves with weapons of control or destruction.
The "UAV's hunters" eagles being ineffective, the technology has taken over.
In France, two years after its first anti-UAVs "Nightmare" rifle, the MC2 technology company presented at Eurosatory 2018 its new Nerod F5 rifle, developed in the framework of the H2020 Spiders project (Synthetic aperture interferometric raDiometer for security in infrastructure infra- structures).
This futuristic rifle is capable of obstructing telecommunication protocols between the UAV and its remote control. Moreover, the Nerod F5 allows to ensure frequency hopping communication systems. In fact, this device is effective against UAVs, IEDs Improvised Explosive Devices (jamming the triggering instruction given by GSM or radio control) and various communication protocols.

French Legislation and website

The French National Assembly adopted a new law in September 2016. It is more restrictive but effective enforcement should not take place before mid-2018 or early 2019. It mainly concerns UAVs of more than 800 grams, which allows the UAVs produced by Parrot but also the Spark, Mavic Air and Pro of DJI to escape the legislation.
The French law specifies the regulations on UAVs of more than 800 grams. Whether leisure or professional, they must be registered. Added to this is the obligation of the designers of the machines to put luminous devices on the device. Below the indicated weight, the device can be considered as being a mini UAV and is in no way governed by these laws. It can be used freely without disturbing the personal space of others.

Remote electronic reporting for drones over 800 grams.

Since June 29, 2020, drones over 800 g are subject in France to another obligation: remote electronic reporting
The aim is that the police can identify a drone, its owner, but also check its flight information data (take-off point, direction, height, speed ...) to possibly ensure that it is not do not prepare to enter a prohibited or even sensitive area (nuclear power plant ...).
The manufacturer DJI offer an firmware update adding the remote electronic identification function for its more recent drones (Mavic 2, Phantom 4 Pro V2, RTK and Multispectral, Matrice 200 V2 and 300 RTK).
For the others, it is up to the user to purchase and set up such a remote electronic reporting device and ensure that it works well.

In France, the DGAC website Alpha Tango is dedicated to leisure UAVs and allows to follow an online training, to take the multiple choice exam and register their aircraft and associated remote electronic reporting device.

European rules applicable after January 1, 2021.

The new European rules applicable on January 1, 2021 will undoubtedly ring the bell of usage of drones over 900 g (such as the Mavic Air) as recreational drones.
The specialized site Studio Sport offers here , a detailed infographic of these rules.

pierre j.

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Texts of this page are on the responsibility of their author only.
DJI, 3DR, Go Pro, Parrot, Studio Sport are register or trade marks
Anafi, Bebop 2 Power, Hero, Karma, Mavic, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Matrice, Phantom are products of these trade marks

Created September 29th 2016, Updated the September 3rd 2020.
© Pierre J.