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DJI Refugees: What are the Alternatives?

moldorf

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so, looking for any silver lining in the dark clouds forming over DJI drones, what are the options if your DJI drones are grounded but you'd like to keep flying?

* well, the legislation has just passed out of committee and has yet to face the amendment process. And then it would have to pass thru the Senate and probably a Senate/House conference committee so more chances of amendments. So, maybe, there's a chance that there will be a grace or transition period of a year or two or three. That might be overly optimistic, but for those sitting on a $3000-4000 dollar fleet of DJI drones and accessories, grasping at straws may be all that's left

* Another brand of drone? Isn't that pretty much limited to Autel? And would Autel drones be the next sacrifice on the political chopping block? And even if they weren't next, how could one safely invest in a drone that might be grounded in the future?

* assuming Autel drones survive, how close are they to the DJI counterparts in function and quality? I love my Mavic 3. It seems the closest match to that in Autel is the Evo II Pro. I guess there are Versions 1, 2, & 3. But reading the Autel forum there seem to be lots of issues and it seems a universal consensus that Autel tech support sucks. It would be kind of hard for me to stomach investing another $3000 in an Autel drone that comes with lousy tech support and could be in the goverment cross-hairs in the future

* what are the odds that DJI refugees end up wandering in the wilderness for years?
 
I dunno, I've said it before: I have a Skydio S2+ and an Autel Evo 2 Pro and an Autel Nano+ collecting dust that I can pull out which will give me at least 2 more years of fun. Not sure what I would do about FPV (which is 75% of my world) but perhaps would be a good time to start tinkering with and building my own. Plenty of options in the non-DJI FPV world. And $3k to $4 isn't even close, try about $10k+.
 
well there is the green mavic 3 made in the usa

ANZU ROBOTICS

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That would be even riskier than buying the DJI Mavic 3 that it is based on. The Raptor is assembled in the US, from DJI parts manufactured in Malaysia. Representative Stefanik and Senator Rubio have gone on record to say this will not bypass the DJI sanctions.

“Any drone affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party should be on the Federal Communications Commission Covered List, regardless of which brand name it is sold under.”

Rep. Stefanik said:
“This desperate attempt to evade tariffs and sanctions is futile, DJI and all of its shell companies will be held accountable.”

The language used in Stefanik's bill doesn't limit the sanctions to DJI-branded drones. It sanctions the radio and the camera parts. That affects more than DJI drones. If you built your own FPV drone and wanted to use DJI's OS3 camera unit, DJI would not be able to get FCC approval for new versions of that hardware.

If Congress determines that Azsu Robotics Raptor and the Cognito Spector face the same sanctions, I would not be surprised if DJI pulls the plug on the licensing of those platforms.
 
That would be even riskier than buying the DJI Mavic 3 that it is based on. The Raptor is assembled in the US, from DJI parts manufactured in Malaysia. Representative Stefanik and Senator Rubio have gone on record to say this will not bypass the DJI sanctions.

“Any drone affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party should be on the Federal Communications Commission Covered List, regardless of which brand name it is sold under.”




The language used in Stefanik's bill doesn't limit the sanctions to DJI-branded drones. It sanctions the radio and the camera parts. That affects more than DJI drones. If you built your own FPV drone and wanted to use DJI's OS3 camera unit, DJI would not be able to get FCC approval for new versions of that hardware.

If Congress determines that Azsu Robotics Raptor and the Cognito Spector face the same sanctions, I would not be surprised if DJI pulls the plug on the licensing of those platforms.
yeah...I started this thread and have been looking at alternatives

Where I'm at is I fly for recreation and videos. I have a Mavic 3 with 5 batteries, an RC-N1, accessories, and a nice hardened Case. I also have a Mini 3 Pro with 6 batteries (4 plus), and RC-N1, accessories, and a nice hardened case. And I initially bought a used Mini 2 with 4 batteries from a friend for $300 with it's own RC-N1. I preferred the RC-N1's because I bought the Tripltek + bracket + lanyard as the control screen and I love it

bottom line is I have about $5700 invested in these drones and equipment. I enjoy flying enough that I've never sweated that sizable chunk of change

so watching this unfold with the thought that I'd like to keep flying I wondered about alternatives, mainly for the Mavic 3 with is my go-to drone. What I've found and people can certainly correct any false assumptions I have:

* Autel: the closest equivalent to the Mavic 3 in cost/benefit is the Evo Lite. It doesn't have the 7X zoom so it's probably closer to a Mavic 3 classic. Amazon is selling that drone + controller + 3 batteries + accessories for $1400 right now. I Know the Evo 2 (V1-2-3) is their flagship but the smallish differences come at a $900 cost, and 2 batteries instead of 3

but reading about Autel, it seems their drones often arrive with problems and tech support seems to generally suck, at least compared to DJI. Autel is a much bigger roll of the dice, and the chances of getting a lemon seem really high

but the main flashing red light is that Autel is a Chinese drone and could be in the goverment's crosshairs at any time
********************************************************************

Anzu: if you can find it. you can get a Mavic 3 with a DJI RC Pro and 1 battery for $5100. The only difference between the Mavic 3 +RcPro is that they are green and cost over $2000 more. Yikes!!

these are so obviously DJI drones just colored green I can't imagine it will escape sanctions if the ban goes thru
*********************************************************************

Specta Air: not a Mavic 3 equivalent but an Air 3 for $1200. The downsides are many. One is that they force you to take the funky DJI RC equivalent as the controller. Another is that you only get one battery and adding a 2nd battery is a major, major pain. And good luck getting a real warranty or finding tech support. I suppose some of that would be mitigated if DJI Air 3 batteries were compatible and you had some. But I read one person say, who bought the Specta, they weren't

and again, so obviously a DJI drone it seems implausible they will escape sanctions
*************************************************************************

None of those look like viable options to me at this point. They are all Chinese drones with Anzu and Specta obviously being DJI drones with terrible disguises

if I was going to roll the dice on a ban happening but existing drones in the USA still being legal, with all future DJI imports banned...

...and with $5700 already invested and using the 'in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound', and wanting to keep flying the Mavic 3 but worrying about some component failure....I'd buy the Mavic Classic for $1279 (RC-N1); or maybe better, a refurbished Mavic Classic (RC-N1) for $1025

there doesn't seem to be a big difference between $5700 of plastic bricks or $6700 of plastic bricks. But that certainly seems like a risky bet at this point

note: sorry for the novella...I'm too caffeinated this morning
 
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it would be a good environment for a local player to step up and offer a cost effective alternative that is just as good and not at risk of the anti-china stuff grounding it.
But it seems the appetite is just not there and no one is biting
 
it would be a good environment for a local player to step up and offer a cost effective alternative that is just as good and not at risk of the anti-china stuff grounding it.
But it seems the appetite is just not there and no one is biting
As long as DJI is still a player, the barrier to compete against DJI for the consumer and prosumer market is too steep.

If Chinese companies are not allowed to compete, there would be room for companies to step in and fill the gaps.
 
As long as DJI is still a player, the barrier to compete against DJI for the consumer and prosumer market is too steep.

If Chinese companies are not allowed to compete, there would be room for companies to step in and fill the gaps.
But will they step in and fill gaps at same price point?
I assume not, or they would already be competing
 
But will they step in and fill gaps at same price point?
I assume not, or they would already be competing
Not at the same price point.

In terms of selling a drone, a vendor has "three legs" to stand on, functionality, reliability, and price. At the consumer and prosumer market, no one could match DJI on three. DJI's market share was like a giant hand, pushing prices down.

The GoPro Karma failed both functionality and reliability. GoPro couldn't compete with DJI and abandoned the drone market after only two years. Had they stayed, they would have had the last six years to add features and keep it falling out of the sky.

If DJI is blocked from the US market, that creates a massive vacuum in the drone space. Autel benefits from that immediately, until Congress discovers another Chinese drone in the market. Skydio could jump back to the consumer market, but they found the enterprise/government market to be lucrative and that may be enough for them right now.
 
I bought a Parrot back in December 2023 because we told in the EMS squad that we could not use the DJI drones anymore in our S&R missions. It cost me $7200 and some change. for the Parrot anafi USA SE

Because we are a a small community based volunteer fire dept and Rescue squad, we purchase our own equipment and the Parrot anafi USA SE. thermal drone was the one recommended by the Tennessee dept of transportation an was one i could afford. . because its meets the DOD blue labeled approved drone USA made. But at 3x the price i paid for the mavic3.
It is kind of similar in controls and function to the mavic3, accept all my flight data goes to the TDOT now for this drone instead of DJI .. . I must say really, talk about a unelected bureaucrats money grab.
the most feared words to hear " Trust me I am from the goverment and I am here to help . Ronald Reagan

Parrot anafi USA SE
 
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