Early last month, a forthcoming EVO II from Autel Robotics was revealed through an FCC filing. The portable follow up to the EVO officially launched at last week's CES 2020 show. Drone and tech pundit OriginaldoBo made a prediction a week before the conference that this year, industry-dominating company DJI was not going to be the star of CES. Now we know why. Autel has introduced the very first 8K folding drone. The EVO II comes in 3 variants offering up 3 separate camera modules.

  • The standard Autel EVO II has an 8K, 48MP camera with a 1/2" CMOS sensor. It can capture content at resolutions up to 8,000x6,000 pixels for photos, meaning you could print an image as large as 100 inches wide. Video resolution will max out at 7720×4320 pixels. It also features lossless, in-camera zoom up to 4x. Its weight at takeoff is 1,127 grams (about 2.5 pounds).
  • The EVO II Pro features a 20MP camera with a 1" CMOS sensor, an adjustable aperture (ranging from f/2.8 to f/11), HDR, an ISO range of 100-12,800, and the ability to capture 6K video. The weight of EVO II Pro at takeoff is 1,174 grams (about 2.6 pounds).
  • The EVO II Dual boasts both a FLIR Boson sensor, with a thermal resolution up to 640x512, plus the same 8K camera that comes with the standard model. Takeoff weight for the EVO II Dual 320 is 1,157 grams (2.55 pounds) and 1,192 grams (2.62 pounds) for the EVO II Dual 640.

All 3 cameras have a maximum bitrate of 120Mbps. They will also feature 10-bit color depth. Autel’s states on its official site that it will continue to update specs, as they become available, but they have not specified whether there is an H.264 or H.265 codec. Information on frame rates is also notably absent at the time of this writing. Each variant of the EVO II is modular. You can upgrade, downgrade, and switch out camera systems without having to purchase a new drone.

The EVO II has a maximum flight time of 40 minutes and a transmission range of 9 km (5.6 miles). While most users will not need to fly this far, Autel states that a longer range 'also means a stronger signal.' It can operate at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour (20.1 m/s). 12 AI-powered computer vision sensors give it omnidirectional obstacle avoidance that can also be disabled if the user wants full, uninterrupted control. 8GB of onboard storage is available with the option of adding an external microSD card up to 256GB.

What drone enthusiasts and professionals, especially, will appreciate is that Autel does not equip its drones with geofencing. While the feature, found in all contemporary DJI models, prevents drones from flying into restricted areas, including controlled airspace, it can also create a major inconvenience if a pilot secures permission to fly in a designated area and is unable to unlock the zone as planned.

The EVO II is currently in production. The EVO II is $1,495 and the EVO II Pro is $1,795. Those interested in purchasing an EVO II Dual will need to contact Autel for pricing. Availability and shipping dates will be announced soon, according to Autel’s official site.