Putting months of rumors and speculation to rest, DJI — the undisputed king of drone world — finally unveiled its much-anticipated Spark drone to the world today at a press event in New York City.
Weighing in at less than a pound and measuring just 5.6 inches wide and long, the Spark is easily the most compact and portable drone in DJI’s product lineup — but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. Despite the fact that it’s just slightly larger than a can of soda, the Spark has plenty of technological muscle under its hood.
In addition to a 16-megapixel camera that shoots video in 1080p at 30 frames per second, the drone also sports a two-axis gimbal. This enables the Spark to mechanically stabilize the camera and cancel out any jarring, shaky movements — ultimately resulting in smoother, better-looking footage. This also gives it a leg up on the competition, as most selfie drovnes only feature single-axis mechanical stabilization.
To complement the camera, the Spark also comes with a wide array of intelligent flying modes. In addition to DJI’s standard offerings like TapFly and Active Track, the drone sports a handful of brand-new modes, such as Rocket (ascent with camera pointing down), Dronie (fly up and backward while locked on subject), Circle (orbit a fixed point), and Helix (orbit outward in a spiral pattern). It also recognizes gestures, and can be controlled via hand gestures — without a controller or smartphone.
As if that weren’t enough, DJI also equipped the drone with a slew of environmental sensors that allow it to sense and react to its surroundings autonomously. On top of the usual GPS and GLONASS positioning systems, the Spark has a forward-facing 3D vision system, which is used for both indoor positioning and obstacle avoidance.
It’s pretty quick, too. According to DJI, Spark has a max speed of 31 miles per hour, and can stay airborne for about 16 minutes on a full charge. Range varies depending on your control style. Using gesture control only, the drone will stay within about 10-20 feet. Using your smartphone to fly gives you about 100 feet of range, and if you want even more distance, an accompanying controller stretches the maximum distance to over 100 yards.
Best of all is the price. You can pre-order the Spark today for just $499. That puts it squarely in competition with popular drones like the Yuneec Breeze and Hover Camera Passport — although on paper, DJI’s drone has significantly better specs. As for a release date, the company expects to begin shipping in June. Find out more here, and stay tuned for our hands-on review!