Not too long ago, in a comparison review, we predicted that newcomer XIRO has what it takes to beat DJI in their own game.
More recently at CES 2016, they’ve proven just that — by releasing a new consumer aerial photography drone featuring obstacle avoidance.
While XIRO may not be the first to introduce such a feature in a consumer drone (Yuneec’s latest Typhoon H hexacopter also sports obstacle avoidance), its latest Xplorer 2 is probably the first drone in the same class as the Phantom 3 to boast having such a feature. Although there are rumors that the upcoming Phantom 4 will come with obstacle avoidance, DJI currently does not have any consumer drone on the market with such a feature.
Like its predecessor, the XIRO Xplorer 2 continues the same aesthetic direction featuring sharp lines and angles with a sleek black finish, albeit in a more complex fashion. The Xplorer 2 actually looks more like a stealth version of the 3DR Solo with a small periscope-like obstacle sensor at its top and does away with the cleaner x-shaped body that its predecessor was well-known for.
As the drone flies, the Xplorer 2’s obstacle sensor (which appears to be a LiDAR laser rangefinder) constantly rotates at a rate of 50 turns per second to spot obstacles such as walls or trees. Once the sensor detects an obstacle, it prevents the drone from flying into it. The Xplorer 2 will then stay put in the air and no amount of pilot input will allow it to come any closer to the detected obstacle. XIRO claims the Xplorer 2 has an anti-collision radius of about 6 meters.
We are not sure why XIRO decided to use such a complicated system instead of one that makes use of non-moving parts — as seen in the Typhoon H with its ultrasonic sensors. Having a LiDAR scanner rotate at high speed all the time will surely result in long-term mechanical wear and tear and subsequent failure. Perhaps LiDAR scanners are more accurate than ultrasonic sensors.
Besides obstacle avoidance, the Xplorer 2 has all the staple features that puts it on par with other drones in its class. It also features the same modular design seen in its predecessor.
XIRO Xplorer 2 specifications:
- Diagonal Motor Distance: 350mm
- Size: 500 X 500 X 190mm
- Weight (Including Battery): 1400g
- Max. Flight Distance: 1000m
- Max. Flight Time: Approx. 25min
- Battery Capacity: 5300mAh 4S LiPo
- Charging Time: Approx. 1.5hrs
- Camera Gimbal: 3-axis stabilized
- Gimbal Control Accuracy: 0.025 degrees
- Camera: HD Video 4K/30fps~1080P/120fps
- Camera Sensor Dimensions: 1/2.3″
- Camera Max. Resolution: 4000 X 3000
- Camera FOV: 85º
At the heart of the Xplorer 2’s navigation system is a GPS/GLONASS dual-satellite setup which should provide highly accurate positioning outdoors. When flying indoors, where satellite signals are not available, the Xplorer 2 can switch to its ultrasonic sonar to get a position lock.
The Xplorer 2 also features an FPV system that has a range of 1km with video resolution of up to 720P HD. Live video feed can be viewed on a smartphone via the XIRO App.
XIRO is hoping to start shipping the Xplorer 2 in May this year, just in time for the summer holidays. The company has not officially announced any pricing yet but there are rumors circulating around that it is expected to cost about $1500 shipped.