DJI Mavic Air

A small drone with tons of au­ton­o­mous fea­tures

Electric Flight - - CONTENTS - By John Reid

A small drone with tons of au­ton­o­mous fea­tures

The new Mavic Air is a small, com­pact drone that is the per­fect com­pan­ion for those look­ing to take a fly­ing cam­era with them every­where to cap­ture all their ac­tiv­i­ties. The drone is well built and comes pre­assem­bled, ready for flight. Begin­ner pilots could eas­ily learn how to fly the Mavic Air as long as they take it slow and fly con­ser­va­tively.

WITH ALL ITS AD­VANCED FEA­TURES AND TERRIFIC FLIGHT CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES, THE MAVIC AIR IS IM­PRES­SIVE. THIS FOLDABLE, POCKET-POR­TA­BLE DRONE IS THE PER­FECT COM­PAN­ION FOR TRAV­EL­ING AND OUT­DOOR EN­THU­SI­ASTS WHO WANT TO DOC­U­MENT THEIR EX­PE­RI­ENCES.

HIGH­LIGHTS

In­cluded in the box is the Mavic Air (in black, red, or white), re­mote con­troller, flight bat­tery, charger, power ca­ble, and three sets of props, along with ca­bles used for con­nec­tions and a car­ry­ing case. You will have to pro­vide a smart­phone to take ad­van­tage of all the fea­tures avail­able with the DJI GO 4 app. The app is used as a screen for the pi­lot to see what the cam­era is cap­tur­ing, and it pro­vides all the other con­trols needed for the Mavic Air’s ad­di­tional func­tions. The Mavic Air’s arms fold up (with the props on), so it’s com­pact for travel. The bat­tery snaps in with a pos­i­tive click, along with two visible red fin­ger tabs that dis­ap­pear when the bat­tery is se­curely locked in.

The con­troller also folds up into a com­pact pack­age and has two arms that, when un­folded, hold a smart­phone in se­curely with a con­nect­ing cord for com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the app. The gim­bal sticks come off for trans­porta­tion and make it easy to fit the con­troller into a small com­part­ment in the stor­age case.

The first thing I did was to charge the con­troller and flight bat­tery. I then down­loaded the app and in­ves­ti­gated the pro­gram. I took the Mavic Air out­side and turned it on. Af­ter

mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing was con­nected and there was a cam­era im­age on the screen, I did a com­pass cal­i­bra­tion, which was easy to do by just fol­low­ing the di­rec­tions. With that com­plete, I fired up the Mavic Air and got it ready for its first flight.

AERIAL RECAP

The Mavic Air of­fers dif­fer­ent flight modes and has a max­i­mum flight time of up to 21 min­utes. It uses an ad­vanced flight-con­trol sys­tem that draws on sev­eral so­phis­ti­cated tech­nolo­gies, which in­clude VIO (vi­su­a­lin­er­tial odom­e­try) and APAS (Ad­vanced Pi­lot-as­sis­tance Sys­tems), to main­tain it­self in 3D space, along with de­tect­ing ob­jects and avoid­ing col­li­sions.

The Mavic Air is solid in the air, and it holds its po­si­tion in space well. I was im­pressed by this bird’s sta­bil­ity and how easy it was to fly even in high winds. I tried out most of the pre­planned flight fea­tures, and these were also very solid, with all the flight paths right on track. The ob­sta­cle avoid­ance, for the most part, works well, but tree branches will likely al­ways be a prob­lem.

The Mavic Air can fly up to 43mph in Sport mode, which is quite fast for a quad this small, but you should be aware that op­ti­cal-avoid­ing sen­sors are dis­abled when the drone is in this mode.

Ev­ery­thing about the Mavic air is com­pact. The drone and con­troller can eas­ily fit in two pock­ets.

Left (top to bot­tom): The sen­sors on the front have an ex­tended range to pre­vent any ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sions. The rear sen­sors also have an ex­tended range to pre­vent any ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sions when trav­el­ing back­ward. The power but­ton for the bat­tery is on the bot­tom of the drone.

The Mavic Air folds up nice and neat and is por­ta­ble, even with the props on. Be­low (top): It’s easy to at­tach a smart­phone se­curely to the con­troller. Be­low (cen­ter): The front arms have fold-down legs to keep the Mavic Air level and the props a lit­tle higher than the ground.

Above (left and right): The bat­tery clicks in place, and a red in­di­ca­tor dis­ap­pears when the bat­tery is locked in.

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