Earlier this month, drone-maker DJI announced their most lightweight and compact drone yet — the DJI Mavic Mini.
At only 249 grams, the foldable drone still manages to pack in 30 minutes of flight time and a capable camera that delivers an effective 12MP resolution and up to 2.7 K resolution video recording.
However, the weight of the drone is not just a happy accident — but something that was central to its design. But why is it so important?
Drone weight and safety
According to DJI, there are various benefits to creating a drone under the 250-gram mark. However, one of the biggest benefits is safety.
“Regulators around the world have agreed that drones weighing less than 250 grams are virtually harmless,” DJI explained in a statement.
“In a fall or a collision, a sub-250g drone is just not going to cause the same kind of damage as a heavier drone.”
The specific 250g measurement comes as a result of calculations by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The regulatory body designated the sub-250g drone category as low-risk and therefore it doesn’t require recreational pilots to register these drones.
“While the 250g limit was intended only as a threshold for registration, it was quickly adopted by other countries as the threshold for many drone regulatory expectations,” DJI said.
“Any weight below that was considered so light that it was unlikely to cause safety problems, and thus there was little reason to impose stronger regulations.”
The safety of operating such light drones also makes piloting a less daunting prospect for novices. Since the drone is less than 250g, it’s unlikely to injure anyone in the event of a collision.
Giving pilots more freedom
Another benefit of the sub-250g weight is the flexibility and freedom it gives novices. Drones of this weight don’t require a licence or registration to operate.
Furthermore, it also may make the drone eligible for certain operations such as flying over people at a suitable distance.
“The rules differ in each country, but in many places, a sub-250g drone may not require registration, and may also be eligible for more complex operations, such as flying over people,” DJI says.
In South Africa, a licence is not needed by hobby drone pilots (i.e. non-commercial drone usage). Hobby pilots can operate drones weighing less than 7kg.
However, according to DroneWorld, hobby pilots need to keep their drones more than 50m away from people, public roads, and buildings.
Mavic Mini pricing and availability
If you are interested in DJI’s latest drone, the Mavic Mini will be available in South Africa from the “second half of November”.
The drone’s price starts from R6999 for the standard edition, which comes with the drone, a remote control, one battery, spare propellers, and essential tools and wires.
However, the Fly More bundle, which includes additional components and accessories, will retail for R8999.
For more info on the Mavic Mini, visit the DJI website.