Report: DJI Downscales Mavic Drone For Selfie Design

Image Credit - DroningOn

Image Credit – DroningOn

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When DJI Global announced the Mavic Pro, it spurred a lot of excitement among mobile and action camera filmmakers looking for a more portable backpack drone. With automated software and 4K camera, it had everything a snowboarder or other types of filmmaker on the move could want. But if the reports are true, it looks like DJI is planning to go even smaller with miniaturized version that’s even more portable.

Image credit - DroningOn

Image credit – DroningOn

The report comes from the drone watching website DroningOn, which found a trademark application from DJI for a new ultra portable selfie drone called the “DJI Spark.” There’s also speculation that since the application refers to the drone with the model designation “MM1A,” that DJI may end up calling this new drone the “Mavic Mini.”

Photos indicate that the Spark would be very similar in design to DJI’s Mavic Pro collapsible drone, but would be around 14cmx17cm. But what’s odd is that this new selfie model isn’t collapsible!

Image Credit - DroningOn

Image Credit – DroningOn

You’d think that DJI would want to make such a small model capable of being able to be stored in a backpack or in your back pocket, so you can whip it out, extend it and capture that kodak moment.

But from the images DroneON has found, the rotor booms are locked in place, kinda like the old Phantom model. So if the Mavic and the Phantom fell in love and had a baby, you’d have the DJI Spark or Mavic Mini. One thing though, according to the specs, this new drone has folding props, so why not retractable booms?

One possibility for the fixed booms could be that DJI may also be looking to make a move into the growing sport of drone racing by creating a smaller, more sturdy drone design that can be really fast.

Other specifications include:

  1. Underside charging contacts for docking bay or charging station
  2. 2-axis camera, potentially with dual lens
  3. Dual ultra-sonic sensors
  4. Optical flow camera
  5. Quick release folding props
  6. 17cm (L) x 14cm (W) (approximated)
  7. Underside removable battery
  8. Charged via USB
  9. 2.4ghz (control) and 5.8ghz (video)
  10. Brushless motors

No mention of price or availability is being part of the trademark application is mentioned in the report, but according to the MSRP of similar models in the small scale drone category, the Spark/Mavic Mini could possibly fetch between $300-500, and I think it will likely hover around the upper end of that range. I think it would also guarantee that at that price, it would be a lower resolution 1080p camera. But if you’re racing, that’s all you really need. Ditto with taking selfies.

But here’s the thing: Looking at the possible markets that the report claims the Spark/Mini wants to attract, I’m not sure it’s really ideal for either of them. Maybe it would be a good racer, but its square, bulky design doesn’t really lend itself towards aerodynamics, in my humble opinion, and without collapsible rotor booms, I don’t know how attractive it would be for the highly mobile selfie set, who would probably pay a little bit more and buy the backpack capable Mavic Pro.

dji-logoThen there’s the recent story that DJI was lobbying the FAA to increase drone payload limits. Having a smaller drone doesn’t really support that activity, but then again, it doesn’t really have to. It could easily just exist outside that.

So while interesting, this new drone design is also puzzling at the same time. Could it just be a prototype? Are there others? Maybe an early design? Inquiring minds want to know.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.