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Richard Windsor
28 September 2016 · 3 min read

GoPro vs. DJI – Autonomous gambit

DJI is making a big gamble with the Mavic Pro. Hot on the heels of GoPro’s Karma launch, DJI has launched a similar drone but Edison see it taking a big risk by using autonomous features as a major selling point.

  • The Mavic Pro is both lighter and smaller than the Karma but comes at a higher price and looks to be much less user friendly than the Karma.
  • What really makes the difference between the two is the fact that DJI has packed the Mavic Pro will autonomous features such as collision avoidance, object recognition and “follow me” functionality.
  • EDISON research indicates that GoPro has avoided adding any of these features because they are not yet good enough to offer a good and reliable user experience.
  • If DJI has managed to perfect these features, this will represent a major step forward, but Edison fear that DJI’s hardware heritage means that it has not really internalised how important getting these features right has become.
  • DJI is probably Schenzen’s most prominent technology company as it is known throughout the world as the maker of the best drones available.
  • Drones are at an early stage of development meaning that they remain in the realm of hobbyists and professional photographers.
  • With these users, ease of use is not a major problem as they will invest the time to learn but for the average consumer, these devices are not really market ready.
  • This means that features such as collision avoidance and “follow me” have to work flawlessly before they the mass market will adopt them and they will actually do substantial damage to a brand if they are not.
  • This is why Edison think that GoPro has avoided adding these features.
  • This means that by promoting them, DJI has done what no one else could and got them to work, or it has misunderstood how important these features will become.
  • This is exactly the problem that sunk Lily Robotics which ran a very successful crowdfunding project but has subsequently been unable to live up to its promises and is now the subject of an investigation.
  • DJI is well known as a maker of quality drones but to date its default position on autonomy is that whenever the drone gets into difficulty it immediately hands-off control to the user.
  • This is when the user needs autonomy the most and Edison think that until the software is good enough to get the drone out of difficulty, these features are a non-starter.
  • Hence, Edison think that DJI is taking a big risk in headlining with these features as Edison fear that they will not live up to the promises that DJI is making.
  • This is the opportunity for the Karma to capitalise but when it comes to software and ecosystem, GoPro still has plenty of difficulties of its own (see here).
  • The net result is that easy to use and cost effective drones are still a long way away from the mass market and Edison think that they will remain in the domain of the hobbyist and professional for some time to come.
  • Very much like virtual reality, Edison do not see drones lifting the fortunes of GoPro or bringing DJI to a new level of growth for a long time, if ever.

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