Get to Know DJI: The World’s Leading Drone Company
DJI is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It develops and manufactures drones, camera drones, and UAVs. DJI is the world’s leader in civilian drones and one of the most recognizable drone brands.
The company was founded in January 2006 by Frank Wang and is currently led by CEO and founder Wang. DJI manufactures the world’s most popular drones, including the Phantom series, Mavic series, and Spark.
The company’s main focus is on developing easy-to-fly drones for both professional and amateur use. DJI’s drones are used for filmmaking, photography, surveying, agriculture, and conservation.
DJI: A Brief History
Founding and Early Struggles
DJI was founded by Frank Wang Wāng Tāo 汪滔 in Shenzhen, Guangdong. He was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang and enrolled as a college student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His HKUST team participated in the Abu Robocon competition and won a prize.
Wang built prototypes for DJI projects in his dorm room and started selling flight control components to universities and Chinese electric companies. With the proceeds, he set up an industrial hub in Shenzhen and hired a small staff. The company struggled with a high degree of employee churn, attributed to Wang’s abrasive personality and perfectionist expectations.
DJI sold a modest number of components during this period, relying on financial support from Wang’s family and a friend, Lu Di, who provided US$90,000 to manage the company’s finances.
Breakthrough with the Phantom Drone
DJI’s components enabled a team to successfully pilot a drone to the peak of Mt. Everest. Wang hired a high school friend, Swift Xie Jia, to run the company’s marketing and DJI began to cater to drone hobbyists and markets outside of China.
Wang met Colin Guinn, who founded DJI North America, a subsidiary company focusing on mass market drone sales. DJI released the model Phantom drone, an entry-level drone user-friendly for the drone market at the time. The Phantom was commercially successful, which led to a conflict between Guinn and Wang midway through the year. Wang offered to buy Guinn out, but Guinn refused. By the end of the year, DJI had locked out employees of its North American subsidiary by email accounts in the process of shutting down the subsidiary operations. Guinn sued DJI, and the case was settled in court.
DJI eclipsed the success of the Phantom with even greater popularity. In addition, they built a live streaming camera. DJI became the largest consumer drone company in the world, driving competitors out of the market.
DJI marked the beginning of the DJI Robomaster Robotics Competition 机甲大师赛, an annual international collegiate robot combat tournament held at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
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In November, DJI announced the establishment of a strategic partnership with Hasselblad. In January, DJI acquired a majority stake in Hasselblad. DJI won a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for its camera drone technology used in filming television shows, including The Amazing Race, American Ninja Warrior, Better Call Saul, and Game of Thrones.
That same year, Wang became Asia’s youngest tech billionaire and the world’s first drone billionaire. DJI signed a strategic cooperation agreement to provide surveillance drones for use by Chinese police in Xinjiang.
In June, police body cam and taser maker Axon announced a partnership with DJI to sell surveillance drones to U.S. police departments. DJI products are widely used by U.S. police and fire departments.
In January, DJI announced an internal probe that uncovered extensive fraud by employees who had inflated costs of parts and materials for certain products for personal financial gain. DJI estimated the cost of the fraud to be CN¥1 (US$147) and maintained that the company would incur a year-long loss in 2018.
In January, the United States Department of the Interior announced the grounding of DJI drones for wildlife conservation and infrastructure monitoring purposes. In March, DJI retained its market share of consumer drones, with the company holding a 4% share.
DJI drones are being used in countries around the world to combat the coronavirus. In China, DJI drones are being used by the police force to remind people to wear masks. In countries like Morocco and Saudi Arabia, drones are being used to disinfect urban areas and monitor human temperatures in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
DJI’s Corporate Structure
DJI has raised a hefty sum of money in preparation for an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Rumors persisted in July that an IPO was forthcoming. They’ve had a few funding rounds, with investors including State Owned New China Life Insurance, GIC, New Horizon Capital (co-founded by the son of China’s Premier Minister, Wen Jiabao) and more.
DJI has received investments from Shanghai Venture Capital Co., SDIC Unity Capital (owned by the State Development Investment Corporation of China), Chengtong Holdings Group (owned by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council).
Employees & Facilities
DJI counts roughly employees in offices around the world. It’s known for having a tough hiring process and a competitive internal culture, with teams pitted against each other to design better products. The factories in Shenzhen include highly sophisticated automated assembly lines and components assembly lines built in-house.
DJI Flight Controllers
DJI develops flight controllers for multi-rotor stabilization and control platforms, designed to carry heavy payloads and capture aerial photography. Their flagship controller, the A2, includes orientation, landing, and home return features.
GPS and compass receivers
Compatibility & Configuration
DJI’s flight controllers are compatible with a range of motors and rotor configurations, including:
Quad rotor +4, x4
Hex rotor +6, x6, y6, rev y6
Octo rotor +8, x8, v8
Quad rotor i4 x4
Hex rotor i6 x6 iy6 y6
Octo rotor i8, v8, x8
Plus, they offer impressive hovering accuracy, with vertical accuracy of up to 0.8m and horizontal accuracy of up to 2m.
Modules for Your Drone
Lightbridge is the perfect module for your drone if you’re looking for a reliable video downlink. It’s got great power management, a screen display, and even a Bluetooth link!
PMU A2 Wookong M
The PMU A2 Wookong M is a great choice for your drone if you’re looking for an interface bus that can handle a 4s-6s lipo battery connection.
The Naza V2 is a great option for your drone if you’re looking for a bus that can handle a 4s-12s lipo battery connection. Plus, it’s got a shared flight controller power of 2s lipo.
The Naza Lite is a great choice if you’re looking for a shared flight controller power of 4s lipo.
Drones for Aerial Photography
Flame Wheel Series
The Flame Wheel series of multirotor platforms are perfect for aerial photography. From the F330 to the F550, these hexacopters and quadcopters are the recent ARF kit of choice.
The Phantom series of UAVs are the go-to for aerial cinematography and photography. With integrated flight programming, a Wi-Fi Lightbridge, and the ability to be controlled by a mobile device, the Phantom series is a must-have.
The Spark UAV is a great choice for recreational use. With a megapixel camera and 3-axis gimbal, the Spark carries advanced infrared and 3D camera technology to help the drone detect obstacles and facilitate hand gesture control. Plus, you can buy a physical controller in addition to the smartphone app and virtual controller.
The Mavic series of UAVs currently includes the Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro Platinum, Mavic Air, Mavic Air 2S, Mavic Pro, Mavic Zoom, Mavic Enterprise, Mavic Enterprise Advanced, Mavic Cine, Mavic Mini, DJI Mini SE, and DJI Mini Pro. With the release of the Mavic Air, there was some controversy as DJI announced a key safety feature, ADS-B, would not be available for models outside the USA.
The Inspire series of professional cameras are quadcopters similar to the Phantom line. With an aluminum and magnesium body and carbon fibre arms, the Inspire was presented in 2017. It has the following specifications:
Weight: 3.9 kg (with battery and propellers included)
– GPS mode: Vertical: ±0.1 m, Horizontal: ±0.3 m
– Atti mode: Vertical: ±0.5 m, Horizontal: ±1.5 m
Max angular velocity:
– Pitch: 300°/s, Yaw: 150°/s
Max tilt angle: 35°
Max ascent/descent speed: 5 m/s
Max speed: 72 kph (Atti mode, no wind)
Max flight altitude: 4500 m
Max wind speed resistance: 10 m/s
Operating temperature range: -10°C – 40°C
Max flight time: Approximately 27 minutes
Indoor hovering: Enabled by default
In March 2020, DJI announced the launch of the DJI FPV, a totally new type of hybrid drone combining the first-person view of FPV and the high-speed performance of racing drones with the cinematic camera and reliability of traditional consumer drones. With an optional innovative motion controller, pilots can control the drone with single-handed movements. Based on DJI’s earlier digital FPV system, the drone features high-performance motors with a maximum air speed of 140 kph (87 mph) and an acceleration of 0-100 kph in just two seconds. It also has an intuitive user interface and the latest safety features for greater flight control. The new FPV system lets pilots experience the drone’s perspective with low latency and high definition video, thanks to the O3 iteration of DJI’s proprietary OcuSync technology. This allows pilots to capture ultra-smooth and stable 4K video at 60 fps with Rocksteady electronic image stabilization.
DJI vs GoPro
DJI Action 2 and GoPro Hero 10 Black are two of the most popular action cameras on the market. Both offer great features and performance, but there are some key differences between them. The DJI Action 2 has a larger sensor, allowing it to capture more detail in low light conditions. It also has a better battery life, making it a great choice for long days of shooting. The GoPro Hero 10 Black, on the other hand, has a more advanced image stabilization system, making it ideal for capturing smooth, shake-free footage. It also has a more intuitive user interface, making it easier to use for beginners. Ultimately, the best action camera for you will depend on your needs and budget.
DJI vs Holystone
The DJI Mavic Mini 2 is the clear winner when it comes to features, with a longer flight distance of 10km, a longer flight time of 31 minutes, the ability to shoot raw, and the ability to create panoramas in-camera. It also has a 24p cinema mode and a serial shot mode, as well as a CMOS sensor. Additionally, it has a 5200mAh battery, which is 1.86x more powerful than the Holy Stone HS720E.
In comparison, the Holy Stone HS720E has some advantages, such as intelligent flight modes, a gyroscope, support for a remote smartphone, a compass, and a wider field of view of 130°. It also has an FPV camera and supports up to 128GB of external memory, making it 101mm thinner than the DJI Mavic Mini 2.
Why did the US ban DJI?
The US banned DJI because it’s estimated to control more than half of the global market for commercial drones, and was deemed to have connections to the Chinese military. It was also accused of involvement in the surveillance of ethnic minority Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region.
Is DJI Chinese spyware?
No, DJI is not Chinese spyware. However, its origins in China and its ability to be manipulated by users to fly over restricted airspace around the nation’s capital has raised concerns among senators and other national security agencies about potential espionage.
In conclusion, DJI is a leading global manufacturer of drones, aerial photography systems, and other innovative products. They have revolutionized the industry with their cutting-edge technology and have become a household name in the drone industry. If you’re looking for a reliable, high-quality drone or aerial photography system, DJI is the perfect choice. With their wide range of products and services, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your needs. So, don’t hesitate to explore the world of DJI and see what they have to offer!
Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.