DJI has announced the Mavic Air 2, the newest compact, folding drone in DJI’s growing lineup. In addition to new hardware, both inside and out, the drone also features new fly modes for simplifying the flight process.

At the heart of the Mavic Air 2 is a 48MP 1/2” Quad Bayer CMOS sensor that’s capable of recording 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (fps) with a 120Mbps data rate. When dropped down to 4K/30p, the Mavic Air 2 can record HDR video while a slow-motion mode can max out at 240 fps when shooting at 1080p. DJI has also included a new Hyperlapse feature that will result in 8K video using one of four flight modes: Free Movement, Circle, CourseLock and WayPoints. This isn’t the true 8K capture the Autel EVO II drone has promised, but it is 8K and we’re still yet to see the EVO II hit the market.

On the stills front, the Mavic Air 2 can capture 12MP stills with a special 48MP supersampling option that uses the drone’s three-axis gimbal to help compensate for movement in-between frames. A new ‘SmartPhoto’ capture mode will also snap 12MP stills using one of three image capture options that DJI says uses ‘advanced scene analysis and deep learning to automatically choose one of [the shooting modes].’

The first of the three shooting modes is HDR, which will snap seven photos at various exposures and merge them together to optimize the dynamic range in an image; the second mode is Hyperlight, which is a low-light mode that will take multiple photos and merge them together to create a single image with less noise than would be possible with a single image; the third and final mode is the ‘Scene Recognition’ mode that will automatically analyze the scene and select from one of five presets (sunsets, blue skies, grass, snow, and trees) to apply to the image to bring out the best of the scenery.

DJI is using new motors and electronic speed controllers (ESCs) in combination with improved battery technology to offer up a maximum flight time of 34 minutes on a single charge. This benchmark is also helped by a more aerodynamic design and lighter weight, with the device weighing just 570g (1.26lbs).

Transmitting live video from the drone to a mobile device is done with DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 protocol, which has been updated to support both 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequency bands, as well as an auto-switching feature, to offer a maximum range of 10km (6.21 miles) when unobstructed. Also included in the Mavic Air 2 is Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0, which is a new obstacle avoidance technology that will recognize when an object is in the drone’s flight path and reroute the drone accordingly. DJI says this new version uses 3D mapping to ‘[aid] in smooth transitions and more fluid movements around objects even in highly complex environments.’

A sample photo captured with the Mavic Air 2, provided by DJI.

AirSense technology has also been included, which uses ADS-B aviation technology to help warn drone pilots of other nearby aircraft by displaying messages on the pilot’s screen, making sounds and vibrating with compatible mobile devices. DJI does note though that due to supply chain shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, only Mavic Air 2 units sold in North America will feature the ADS-B transponder; units sold in other regions will be identical in every other regard. No timeframe is given as to when this discrepancy between units could change.

The Mavic Air 2 also features a number of AI-powered features, including ActiveTrack 3.0, Point of Interest 3.0 and Spotlight 2.0. Below is a breakdown from DJI explaining each of the three modes:

  • ActiveTrack 3.0: Select a subject for Mavic Air 2 to automatically follow. The third iteration of ActiveTrack uses state-of-the-art mapping technology and new flight path algorithms to offer improved subject tracking and obstacle avoidance, along with the ability to quickly re-engage the subject if it temporarily moves behind an object.
  • Point of Interest 3.0: Set an automated flight path around a specific subject. The updated iteration improves surface recognition to better dynamically track subjects.
  • Spotlight 2.0: Found in professional DJI drones, Spotlight locks a subject in the frame while the user has free operation of the drone’s movement.

The Mavic Air 2 will be made available in China starting today, while other regions should see the first units hitting store shelves in mid-May for $799. This ‘standard’ kit will include the Mavic Air 2, one battery, the remote controller and all necessary cables. A new Fly More option, which will include everything in the standard version as well as a shoulder bag, ND filters, a charging hub and three additional batteries, will retail for $988. Other optional accessories include propeller guards, protective cases and a tablet holder. You can find out more information about the Mavic Air 2 on DJI’s product page.