At CES Yuneec unveiled a new unit, the Typhoon H, that promises to deliver a high-end, Hollywood-caliber drone, but at just two-thirds of the price of DJI’s Inspire 1.
The Typhoon H, like the Inspire 1, has retractable landing gear and a camera which can pan a full 360 degrees. Unlike the Inspire and the previous version of the Typhoon, the new unit has six rotors instead of four. Yuneec says this will allow the craft to remain stable and land in the event it loses one or two motors. DJI also has a six-rotor craft aimed at Hollywood professionals, the S900, which sells for $3,400 when fully equipped with a HD camera. The Typhoon H is expected to retail for $1,799, while the Inspire 1 goes for $2,600.
IT CAN FLY EVEN IF IT LOSES A ROTOR OR TWO
The new Typhoon H is also promising the full suite of autonomous features, something which has become table stakes for drones these days. It has Orbit, Point of Interest, Curved Cable, and something called Journey. It has basic sense and avoid technology on board, using “ultrasonic proximity detection” to automatically dodge large obstacles. In theory it should also give the aircraft more lift, allowing for heavier and more sophisticated camera equipment to be attached, as you can with the S900.
All of this is a very attractive offering against the initial value proposition of the Inspire 1, but DJI has evolved that unit, along with accessories and autonomous software, in the year since it was released. The Typhoon H shoots 4K video and 12 megapixel stills, just like the original camera on the Inspire.
In terms of autonomous flight, the Inspire launched with very little. But DJI pushed a firmware update in the summer of 2015 that added point of interest, orbit cam, and Follow Me mode. In our testing we found DJI’s autonomous features were not quite as refined as what Yuneec and 3D Robotics are currently offering, but it also seems clear they will improve with time and can be updated over the air.
The second half of this value proposition, the ability to see obstacles and prevent crashes is something we’re looking forward to testing once we get our hands on a review unit. In addition to its ultrasonic proximity sensor, Yuneec said the Typhoon H was built to allow for additional components, such as Intel’s RealSense camera to expand its capabilities in the future. If this tech works well, that would be a very compelling reason for any pilot, beginner or professional, to pick this drone over the current competition, none of which offer anything like robust sense and avoid.