Autel EVO Max 4T drone launches at CES 2023

2023 is starting strong with CES 2023 bringing a slew of new tech products. And specific to the drone world, Autel is going all in with its enterprise drone focus thanks to the launch of its new EVO Max 4T drone. This powerhouse, commercial drone is set to be a worthy competitor to the DJI M30T drone — and it could continue to eat into DJI’s shrinking market share on the enterprise side of things.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Autel EVO Max 4T drone, and how it fits into the broader drone industry.

The new Autel EVO Max 4T: a breakdown of the key specs

Though Autel also says the EVO Max 4T is good for “prosumer” applications, this is really more of an enterprise drone given the depth of the technology powering it. Among its key features are omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and tri-anti interference capability (RFI/EMI/GPS), accurate navigation without GPS and three cameras.

Like DJI’s Mavic line of drones (and others in the Autel EVO line), it’s foldable. Though not waterproof, this drone is at least weather-resistant, and it can fly in winds up to 27 mph.

It can fly for 42 minutes, at altitudes as high as 23,000 feet. Alas, that’s not quite enough to fly over the top of Everest, which is 29,000 feet, but it could at least fly over Everest Base Camp.

Pricing varies based on a few factors including configuration and dealer, but will run somewhere in the $7,000 to $9,000 range, an Autel company spokesperson told The Drone Girl.

The Autel EVO Max 4T’s three cameras

This drone comes with an incredible three cameras. They are:

  • A telephoto camera
  • A 50MP wide-angle camera
  • A thermal camera

The 48MP telephoto camera comes with 10x optical zoom, 160x digital zoom, and a 1/2″ CMOS sensor. It has a f/2.8 – f/4.8 aperture.

The wide-angle camera offers 50MP with a 1/1.28″ CMOS sensor and 3840×2160 video resolution. It has a 4.5mm focal length and f/1.9 aperture.

That infrared camera comes with a 640×512 resolution and 1.2km ranging distance. It has a 13mm focal length.

All of it is powered by a laser rangefinder with 1.2km ranging distance and ±1m ranging precision. Images can be transmitted as far as 12.4 miles.

Standout “intelligent” functions

This is considered to be a semi-autonomous drone, in the sense that it’s not able to fully operate on its own (like drone-in-a-box style drones) that can take-off, land, charge themselves, etc. on a recurring basis with zero human intervetion.

But it’s still highly automated, given multiple semi-autonomous flight missions, autonomous pathfinding, live streaming, and target acquisition. It also includes various smart accessibility features.  There’s a non-GPS return-to-home, so if your drone gets disconnected it can fly back to its takeoff point — even without a GPS connection.

It includes sense and avoid tech, where not only will the drone not crash into objects in its path, but it’ll reroute around them. Because it combines traditional binocular vision systems with millimeter wave radar technology, it theoretically has no blind spots, even in low light or rainy conditions.

Specific to its camera, the drone’s intelligent navigation and data acquisition functions include 3D flight routes, PinPoint Mode, Team Work, Polygon Mission, Waypoint Mission, and Oblique Photography.

Who should use the Autel EVO Max 4T?

Enterprise uses: Potential applications for the EVO Max 4T include search and rescue, firefighting support, mapping, and inspection.

Folks concerned about jamming: It should be of interest to folks who are concerned about the rise of GPS jammers or other tech that prevents drones from flying. That’s because the EVO Max 4T uses advanced flight control modules and algorithms specially designed to counter RFI, EMI, and GPS spoofing.

Folks concerned about privacy: Data privacy is being touted as a key feature on this drone. Data involving user and aircraft information, including flight logs, locations, and account information can only be physically accessed via the aircraft locally and are not stored in the cloud or elsewhere.

For people who want encrypted data storage, this drone supports AES-256 encryption for photos, videos, and flight logs, enabling them to be password-protected.

Folks seeking an alternative to DJI: Of course, a big, key reason to choose Autel is purely for what it is not: not DJI. Autel launched in 2014 with its headquarters in Shenzhen, the same city that houses DJI’s headquarters. Autel has since grown to operate R&D bases around the world, including Seattle, Munich, and Silicon Valley.  Because Autel runs another headquarters office in Bothell, Washington, it is sometimes able to count as an American drone company — depending on who you ask.

American-made drones are a high priority for many drone pilots as of late, largely because many private organizations and government organizations have banned drones made in China. Some have banned all drones made outside the USA. In 2020, dozens of Chinese companies including DJI (but not Autel), were put on a restricted trade list over concern’s about DJI’s ties to the Chinese government.

A “family portrait” of sorts of all of Autel’s current drone offerings, including the new Autel EVO Max 4T drone.

Other Autel announcements at CES 2023

The Autel EVO Max 4T isn’t all that Autel launched at CES 2023 in Vegas this month. It also launched two products — the Dragonfish NEST and the EVO NEST — that better support autonomous take-off, landing, charging and mission planning, making existing products a bit more drone-in-a-box in style. Both products are powered by the SkyCommand Center software.

For its Dragonfish line of drones, there’s now a new product called the Dragonfish Nest, which purports to be the world’s first automated eVTOL support system. It offers Dragonfish aircraft with autonomous takeoff, landing, charging, and flight missions across a range of up to 75 miles between units, making the Dragonfish more useful for long-range corridor inspections and large area coverage.

The EVO NEST is a base for automatic take-off, landing, charging, and mission planning for EVO series drones, capable of operating in all types of weather, and small enough to be transported in a standard pickup truck. 

Autel also released a few accessories, including the Dragonfish Repeater and Autel Smart Antenna Transmission (ASAT) System.

Autel used CES 2022 to model its then-newest lineup of consumer drones in real life, the Autel EVO Nano and EVO Lite drones. This year’s launch signifies an emphasis on enterprise over consumer drones, underscoring the notion that the hobby drone market is shrinking.  That’s in spite of the fact that the drone market as a whole is still set to grow. Based on Drone Industry Insights estimates, the combined commercial and recreational sides of the drone market will be worth $55.8 billion by the year 2030.

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