Things are starting to look a little cramped in the consumer drone market. DJI now has drones across a range of price points, targeting buyers that it wasn’t until recently. To make purchasing decisions even harder for enthusiasts, Parrot has today thrown a new drone into the mix: the Anafi.
At first glance, the Anafi is a big step forward for Parrot from its Bebop models. So what are the headlines?
For starters, the Anafi is foldable and compact, weighing just 350 grams. That puts it nicely between the DJI Mavic Air and Spark in terms of size and portability, for the sake of comparison.
Unlike the Spark and like the slightly heavier Mavic Air, the Anafi can shoot video in 4K. Its camera has a Sony IMX230 sensor, an Ambarella video processor and can shoot 21MP photos. It also benefits from 3-axis stabilization and 180 degrees of vertical tilt, allowing for more creative options.
Flight time is where the Anafi appears to come into its own. Thanks to what Parrot describes as a “bio-inspired design” and a smart battery, the Anafi outlasts both the Mavic Air and the Spark, staying up for as long as 25 minutes. It can also be charged with a USB-C cable, which is a convenient touch.
When in ‘sport mode’ it’s top speed is 55km/h (34mph). According to Parrot the Anafi can handle 50km/h winds and has a 4km range.
The Anafi is flown with Parrot’s Skycontroller 3, which, like the drone, unfolds and is ready to go in a matter of seconds. You fly the Anafi using Parrot’s FreeFlight 6 application, which includes a range of automated flight modes from Dronies to ‘Cameraman mode’ to Follow Me. Instead of relying on GPS, Parrot’s tracking system uses a neural network to pinpoint the target for each shot.
Another first for Parrot: You can now store all of your media on the included 16GB microSD card, instead of having to connect to the drone’s internal flash memory as with Parrot models of old.
The Parrot Anafi has no obstacle avoidance tech?
It’s been over two years since Parrot released a serious contender in the consumer drone market. And one element of the Anafi is noticeable in its absence: the lack of obstacle recognition or avoidance technology. Whatever the differences in camera quality, flight modes and flight time, it’s hard to see how Parrot can expect this drone to seriously compete with DJI when it doesn’t have safety features anywhere near as advanced.
By not including this technology, Parrot appears to have failed to ease every pilot’s worst fear: You’ve just spent hundreds of dollars on a drone, and at any moment one wrong turn could render it in pieces. Although collision avoidance is not a guarantee that accidents won’t happen, it’s a useful preventative measure and goes a long way to lessen the nerves that come with flying – particularly in tighter spaces.
Parrot also stand to miss out on a major uptake of this drone among commercial pilots. If you’re inspecting a rooftop, shooting a golf course or taking shots for real estate, are you really going to choose a drone without obstacle avoidance over one that does have it? Even the most confident of pilots would rather have that safety system in place.
Given that Parrot is also offering business solutions, covering drones, software and services in the verticals of agriculture, 3D Mapping, surveying and inspection, this seems like an opportunity missed.
Most DJI drones are ostensibly targeted towards consumers/enthusiasts, but nevertheless end up being used by professionals. It’s likely that their advanced safety features are one of the reasons for that.
We don’t doubt that Parrot explored the possibility of including this type of technology with the Anafi. It must not have been viable with the price point the French manufacturer had in mind. This says as much about DJI’s dominance (and the reasons for it) as anything else.
First, pitching a drone at a consumer market already saturated with the DJI Spark, Mavic Air and Mavic Pro was never going to be easy. Were it not for DJI’s vertical business model and relentless iteration, Parrot wouldn’t be playing catchup in terms of tech. They also wouldn’t have to price their new products so carefully and make choices between innovation and product price.
No doubt a huge amount of hard work and time had to go into this offering to even, on paper at least, produce a competitive drone that holds its own against DJI’s best consumer models. Parrot should be given plenty of credit for achieving that.
Parrot Anafi: Price and Release Date Info
Want to give the Parrot Anafi a chance? It can be pre-ordered today and will be in store beginning July 1, 2018 at a price of $699 in select consumer electronics retailers, on Amazon.com and via Parrot.com.
We look forward to taking it for a spin.