Shenzhen drone maker DJI unveiled its new professional consumer-class Inspire 1 drone* with 4K video recording and announced a new Software Development Kit to allow third-party developers to write apps that work with its flagship Phantom 2 Vision flying cameras last week.
The Inspire 1 drone has a 360-degree aerial* camera, capable of shooting 4K video and 12 megapixel* stills. It can stream high-definition video back to a mobile device in real time via DJI's app. It also has retractable* landing gear to provide an unobstructed* shot. The drone can be operated by two people at the same time — one person piloting the machine and the other steering the camera — and provides a steady image stream, even in high winds. It has a new flight control system featuring a downward facing camera that helps stabilize the unit even when it loses GPS* lock.
DJI plans to slowly unroll a software development kit, first with its Phantom model and later with Inspire, to attract third-party developers and boost the drone's industrial capabilities. Apps, coupled with greater sophistication of drone technology, will enhance the number of industrial uses for commercial drones.
According to research by Frost & Sullivan, DJI controls about half of a US$250-300 million global market for small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), outpacing rivals such as Parrot in France and Germany's Microdrones. Silicon Valley venture capital* firm Sequoia Capital is considering investing, though the financing isn't final. Insiders forecast that demand for UAV autopilot systems in China will hit 46 billion yuan (US$40 billion) over the next two decades.