New DJI O3 Air Unit doubles down on FPV

The first big FPV product that launched this year was its Avata drone. But now it seems that DJI is doubling down on FPV in 2022 thanks to the launch of the drone maker’s newest product, the DJI O3 Air Unit.

DJI today launched what’s called the O3 Air Unit. It’s a compact, lightweight FPV camera and transmission module system designed to deliver better and more reliable images during flight.

The camera has some impressive specs, including:

  • a 1/1.7-inch sensor
  • Up to 4K/60fps video
  • A 155° super-wide FOV
  • Ability to deliver 1080p/100fps live feed from up to 10 km away with latency as low as 30 ms.

As far as the transmission module, that’s impressive too. Here’s what it’s made up of:

  • DJI’s O3+ system.
  • 2T2R omnidirectional antennas built into the air unit.
  • 1080p/100fps H.265 Video Transmission at a max bitrate of 50 Mbps.
  • Video transmission covers up to 10 km.
  • Latency as low as 30 ms.

There are also some smart features. For example, when the O3 Air senses a crowded signal environment, it automatically selects the best signal frequency and uses anti-interference technologies to keep a strong connection to its pilot.

As far as filming, you can shoot in D-Cinelike color mode. Or, use it in conjunction with the DJI Avata ND filter set.

Consider it the newest addition to high-performance FPV drone flying. And, it’s already available now. It starts at $229, which includes the camera and transmission modules, the antenna, and a 3-in-1 cable. You can also purchase items individually. For example, just the camera module is going for $109, or just the transmission module sells for $169.

How DJI O3 Air Unit could impact the broader drone industry

The DJI O3 Air Unit not only creates a higher-performance FPV experience for those who use it, but it is set to level up the sport of drone racing as a whole.

Sure, drone racing is slowly growing in popularity thanks to companies like the Drone Racing League offering more online races and in-person events, such as the recent kickoff of the 2022–23 DRL Algorand World Championship Season at PayPal Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. And for what it’s worth, DRL says its viewership doubled in its latest season. But even still, FPV drone racing is not exactly a mainstream event.

Among the reasons why include some technical challenges, both for pilots and audiences. Low-latency is crucial to drone racing, meaning that drone pilots need a video feed in as close to real-time as possible as an lag makes it that much harder to control the drone (and that much more likely to crash). Lower-latency typically means a tradeoff in video feed quality. Higher-quality video feeds typically means longer lag times, but lower-quality video videos likely won’t keep audiences as engaged.

With ongoing developments in FPV transmission technology such as the DJI O3 Air Unit, those challenges might be better solved.

DJI’s ongoing involvement in FPV

The FPV world was rocked when DJI launched its Cinewhoop-style FPV drone in summer 2022. It weighs just 405 grams and is just 180×180 mm (about the size of a #2 wood pencil), and is especially-suitable for flying inside.

But that was not even DJI’s first step into FPV. DJI in 2021 launched its first-ever first person view drone called the DJI FPV drone, which mostly targeted the racing crowd. It can reach maximum speeds of 87 mph, at a maximum acceleration of 0-62 mph in just two seconds.

In addition to today’s O3 Air news, DJI also announced that its DJI Goggles 2, which were released alongside the DJI Avata Pro-View Combo, will now be available in a standalone version, starting at $649.

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