For a long time DJI has sort of forgotten the commercial market, apart from filmmakers.
With the announcement of the DJI A3, however, it is offering a very compelling product.
Here is a list of features I think are important for the commercial market:
- Triple redundancy, both in GPS and IMUs. Pixhawk won't arm if IMUs mismatch, but if one fails in flight how do you know which reading is correct? (I would like to see some CPU fault tolerance since NAZAs have been known to freeze causing crashes)
- Motor fail tolerance. I am guessing this also has a lot to do with ESCs that actually give feedback to the Flight Controller as opposed to only reading a PWM input.
- RTK GPS support (this one is already supported on Pixhawk so I guess Pixhawk wins the battle here, but we'll see how well it works)
- Lightbridge 2. High bandwidth, low latency, digital communication. (I don't know why they are also offering Datalink Pro with <1Ghz frequency when Lightbridge is so advanced already.)
- Ground station support. (This one is a must, but was almost forgotten with the A2 and the outdated DJI Ground Station for windows and iPad.)
Now I am in now way affiliated with DJI and I am actually a supporter of Dronecode and Open Source in general.
However, this announcement makes me rethink whether Dronecode based drones will continue to be the best option for any business operating drones.
I, personally, have been using a Phantom 2 for surveying for 2 years now and have sold mods of it for surveying work and they have worked great (not that I had problems on the Pixhawks either). But I think the refinement and ease of use will be really compelling for anyone except the OS fans like us.
Now, of course the main thing going on for Dronecode and 3DR, and the reason I won't buy another Phantom, is the versatility of Open Source based drones. But if (big IF) DJI gets a decent SDK they might be a very solid option even for people with custom needs.
I am sure we will see some serious competition soon between 3DR and DJI which I think will benefit everyone, 3DR will have to keep up with the relentless upgrade path DJI is taking right now. I would be quite nervous if I were 3DR, since matching the technology used in DJI products will require vasts amount of time and money (the Lightbdridge alone is quite remarkable with OFDM) and they don't have the super profitable consumer products DJI has.
I do wish they'll keep up since they (together with this community) make the drones I've had the best time developing with.