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Parrot Anafi Ai 4K folding drone goes long distance with 4G connectivity

Developed for commercial use, the drone is able to stay connected to its pilot at any distance, regardless of obstacles.

The new Parrot Anafi Ai and Skycontroller 4.

European drone-maker Parrot kickstarted the consumer drone market but over the past few years, it's left that behind to focus on its Anafi commercial drones like last year's triple-camera Anafi USA and 2019's Anafi Thermal. Those models weren't too different from its original Anafi, but the Anafi Ai drone announced Wednesday breaks new ground for Parrot.

The drone is the first to use a 4G data link between it and the pilot, allowing for long-range autonomous flights, and it can stay connected even behind obstacles. The drone doesn't require its own subscription. It works with any phone with any SIM card with a data plan. The link is also fully encrypted so you can securely upload photos and videos in the air. The security doesn't stop there, with the drone using a WISeKey Secure Element to protect information and meeting Europe's GDPR standards.

To help the Anafi Ai keep from crashing while flying out of sight, Parrot developed a unique obstacle-avoidance system. The main 48-megapixel camera is centered between a pair of omnidirectional camera eyes. Parrot uses just these eyes to detect obstacles to help the drone map its way around them. Other drones with obstacle-avoidance systems use cameras in front and on the sides and bottom, which drives up cost, weight and processing demands. 

Read more: Best drones for 2021


The main camera can capture 4K-resolution video at up to 60 frames per second. It can be aimed straight up or down on its three-axis motorized gimbal. The camera also uses three-axis electronic stabilization so its 48-megapixel sensor can create sharp, survey-grade 2D and 3D models, Parrot says. Images are compatible with all photogrammetry software suites, including Parrot subsidiary Pix4D.

Parrot has a large network of software partners, too. Its piloting application is open-source and Parrot's SDK gives access to all flight sensors, including obstacle avoidance sensors, occupancy grid and internet access.

No pricing was announced, but the Anafi Ai is expected to be available in the second half of 2021 through its enterprise partners and reseller network.