DJI's M200 drones can take more than just pretty pictures

Their new line of rugged commercial drones can tackle dangerous jobs to aid in search and rescue, power line surveying or bridge inspection.

Vanessa Hand Orellana CNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Vanessa Hand Orellana
2 min read
Watch this: DJI's new drones are ready to tackle tougher jobs

DJI is looking to take on the tough jobs with its new line of M200 drones. These are rugged drones built specifically for industrial work like power line inspection, or search and rescue operations that would otherwise be inaccessible to workers.

It's drones are built on a similar blueprint as their $3,000 Inspire 2, but with a few modifications to the software and hardware. For starters, it's the first DJI's drone to offers a dual gimbal setup on the front to mount two cameras side-by-side and an upward facing gimbal option on the top for an upward facing camera. Though you can't mount all three cameras at once, to avoid blocking the GPS signal, you must chose between the top mount or the dual front mount when flying.

The drone has its own built-in camera, but the mounted ones must be purchased separately directly from DJI in the case of the Z30 for extra zoom or partners like Flir for thermal imaging.

The built-in camera gives the pilot a first person feed of the flight, while the visuals from the mounted cameras can be viewed by a second person as a picture-in-picture display on the app. It also has two sensors on the front to render images in 3D for more precise obstacle avoidance. And the only DJI drones with a built in ADS-B receiver, an aircraft detection system that alerts pilots of nearby airplanes or helicopters.

We weren't able to see the Matrice 200 in action during our demo, but DJI envisions using it areas like search and rescue, construction, farming, bridge inspections or any other task requiring access to remote places. DJI has also opened the SDK for programmers to come up with new ways to take advantage of these drones.

And because it's weather resistant, it will get the job done rain or shine... another first for DJI.

DJI's other drones were already being used in many of these scenarios, but often times with DIY modifications and software tweaks, which is why the company decided to make a line of drones specifically designed for this type of use case.

Like the Inspire 2, the M200 have a dual battery setup with a longer flight time of about 35 minutes according to DJI.

There are three models in the M200 series: the M200 with one gimbal for a one downward facing gimbal mount, the M210 with multiple configurations including the dual mount or top mount and the 210 RTK with a more robust navigation system for centimeter level precision during flight.

DJI has not released pricing information yet on the M200 series, but says they will be available for purchase in the second quarter of 2017.

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