DJI delivery drone just launched — but here’s why you might not see it anytime soon

The world finally has a DJI delivery drone. The Chinese drone making giant this week launched its first DJI delivery drone. It’s called the FlyCart 30, and that name makes perfect sense, as the drone is capable of carrying up to 30 kg (which is about 66 pounds) with two batteries on board, and up to 40 kg if you can get away with just one battery.

Besides being capable of carrying heavy weights, it offers a long range (16 km loaded or 28 km unloaded), and has intelligent features including obstacle avoidance. It’s versatile (able to support two load modes) ad is designed to be safe given redundancies such as dual batteries.

Dig deeper into those features, learn how this drone fits into the broader drone delivery market and more in this guide to the new DJI delivery drone, the FlyCart 30:

Photo courtesy of DJI

Key FlyCart 30 specs

Let’s start with a quick rundown of some critical specs on the FlyCart 30 delivery drone:

  • Maximum load: 30 kg (dual batteries) or 40 kg (single battery)
  • Range: 16 km (full load) to 28 km (empty)
  • Maximum speed: 20 m/s
  • Cruising speed: 15 m/s
  • Maximum flight altitude: 6000 meters
  • Maximum wind speed: 12 m/s
  • Image transmission system: 20 km O3 with full HD FPV single-axis gimbal camera
  • IP55 protection level
  • anti-corrosion dual radar & dual vision
  • intelligent obstacle avoidance
  • dual battery
  • built-in parachute

The drone itself is designed to be fairly portable given its foldable design.

The parachute on the DJI FlyCart 30. Photo courtesy of DJI

FlyCart 30 safety features

Particularly because delivery drones are likely flying over more populated areas (as opposed to say, vast farmland or otherwise desolate infrastructure like wind turbines and oil pipelines), additional safety features feel almost more critical with delivery drones versus any other.

DJI delivers on that with a few standout features designed with safety at the forefront.

A parachute: Most notable among them is a built-in parachute. And it’s not just any parachute. It’s equipped with safeguard functions on its own such as power-on self-check, independent power supply, oar stop protection before opening the parachute, and sound and light alarms.

Landing protection: During the take-off and landing process, multiple safety guarantee features kick in, such as sound and light prompts and a 6-second delay in propeller launch. With the addition of an RTK module to achieve centimeter-level high-precision positioning, take-off and landing is made even more accurate (and thus safe)

Backup points: You can program the drone to land in alternate points should it need to make an emergency landing at a location other than what was originally intended.

Obstacle avoidance: The drone is equipped with multi-directional intelligent obstacle avoidance technology so it can see objects in its path — and then automatically reroute around them. That’s made possible via a forward and backward rotating active phased array radar system plus two sets of binocular vision systems. There’s also a built-in ADS-B signal receiver, which can offer warings of other manned aircraft in the area.

Redundant batteries: Should one battery go bad during flight, the FlyCart 30 is powered by a dual battery system for redundancies. That second battery simply kicks in and allows the drone to remain safely flying.

DJI Pilot 2: The controller displays a program called DJI Pilot 2. The program’s primary function is to show the real-time flight status of drones and cargo delivery conditions, but it also has safety at its forefront. It displays the power of the drone in real time mid-flight, so you can confirm mileage accrued and time needed to get to the target point. In the event of extreme weather or other abnormalities, DJI Pilot 2 will issue warnings and can help navigate the drone to alternate landing points.

Photo courtesy of DJI

DJI Transport: the new one-stop delivery management program

Most users will use this drone in tandem with DJI Transport, which is what DJI is billing as a “one-stop airborne cloud platform” to plan equipment tasks, fully control operation dynamics, centrally manage team resources, and statistically analyze multi-dimensional data. 

Delivery drone flights typically necessitate far more automation than a camera drone flight would, which is why this software is critical for task planning.

The program displays a 2.5D map of the drone’s area, with it displaying the drone’s operating status. Use that 2.5D map to draw complex flight routes and plan flight routes in advance, or mark locations and alternate landing point management.

With batch management of equipment health status and other maintenance information, managing a fleet of drones is made easier.

Yes, there’s still a camera

The FlyCart 30 is not a “camera drone,” but it still has a camera so operators can get a view of what the drone is seeing.

Most delivery drone flights operate beyond the operator’s visual line of sight, which is why a strong image transmission system is critical. The DJI FlyCart 30 is equipped with DJI O3 image transmission, and the image transmission distance can reach up to 20 kilometers. And should that O3 image transmission signal struggle in the midst of potential interference, it can also work with the 4G network and can deal with signal blocking situations, should they arise.

Photo courtesy of DJI

The controller

The FlyCart 30 is designed to integrate with the DJI RC Plus, which is equipped with a 7-inch high-brightness large screen (up to 1200 nits) and supports dual-control mode. That means that pilots in two completely different places can switch the control authority of the drone with one button to meet various operational needs.

And it’s ultra durable. With IP54 degree of protection (which is a standard for defining durability), it’s officially considered waterproof and dustproof.

It’s also capable of operating in fairly extreme temperatures — as low as -4°F and as high as 122 °F. Thecontroller has a 6-hour long battery life.

On its own, the controller — which was originally built for the Matrice 30 Series, 300 RTK & 350 RTK — runs for $1,600.

How the DJI delivery drone works

The FlyCart 30 has two different loading modes. There’s a container system, and an empty crane system.

Most folks will load goods to be delivered in the general-sized EPP container, which is easy to open, close and disassemble — and comes with the drone.

But the empty crane system might be better for more complex operations. With it, the empty crane system relies on a cable to “drop items.” In the cable drop mode, the cargo will be released automatically after it touches the ground. The cable can extend to a maximum release length of 20 meters.

Either way, it has a maximum capacity of over 70 liters and can carry up to 30 kg payloads with a dual battery, or 40 kg maximum payload if you’re willing to fly with just one battery.

The drone is also pretty smart too. Internal computing power supports weight and center of gravity detection to ensure correct cargo loading and safe and stable flight. And if you’re flying in the empty crane mode, the drone can intelligently adjust its attitude, effectively eliminating any swing of the cargo.

How to get your hands on the FlyCart 30 DJI delivery drone

Unless you live in China, don’t count on it. For now, it’s only available in China, being sold in a package for about $17,000 that includes the drone itself as well as the RC Plus remote controller, two Intelligent Flight Batteries, and a charging hub and cables.

DJI has not yet said when it would roll out to other markets. That said, there is a strong appetite for read-to-fly delivery drones, particularly in the U.S.

What other delivery drones are out there to buy?

Right now, the two biggest drone delivery companies — Wing and Zipline — use their own in-house drones. That enables them to have custom systems, which in Zipline’s case includes its Platform 2 system that features a secondary Zipline droid in a loader. And in Wing’s case, that includes a piece of hardware called Autoloader that makes it easy to latch packages to the company’s eVTOL style drones. Those in-house drones are not for sale to the general public.

But for the other companies who want to run their own deliveries — whether it’s an enterprising Girl Scout troop seeking to delivery cookies via drone, a lifeguard looking to deliver a life preserver to someone in the water, a restaurant trying to run its own takeout order deliveries or anything in between — there are few options.

There are two great options for delivery drones to buy in the U.S, and they both come from the same company: the RDSX Pelican and the RDST Longtail

RDSX Pelican

The first is the RDSX Pelican, which is a ready-to-fly delivery drone from a company called A2Z Drone Delivery, which is based in Los Angeles. That drone can carry payloads up to 8 kg ad has a maximum range of 50 km with no payload or 40 km with 5 kg payload. It’s also pricier than the DJI FlyCart 30, coming in at about $25,000 (or more with upgraded configurations).

The RDST Longtail, a Ready-to-Fly Commercial Delivery Drone. Photo courtesy of A2Z Drone Delivery.

RDST Longtail

Then there’s the RDST Longtail from A2Z Drone Delivery. The RDST Longtail is capable of delivering or retrieving payloads up to 5 kg over a distance of 11 km making it ideal for local parcel or food delivery, emergency medical deliveries, drone-born water sampling programs, search and rescue operations, and more. Available in a Standard edition ready for customization, or a rainproof Premium edition featuring the company’s factory-integrated RDS2 drone winch, the RDST Longtail enables payloads to be deposited safely from altitude where spinning rotors are kept far from people and property.

With no need for specialty payload boxes, it is able to auto-release the shippers’ own boxes or bags without the need for a recipient to be on site to receive the payload. Ready to fly through inclement weather, the RDST Longtail Premium edition also comes with a quick-release battery system to limit downtime. Designed to meet the 55-pound FAA max takeoff weight requirement, the RDST Longtail is remote ID compliant with a factory-integrated remote ID beacon.

The redesigned A2Z Drone Delivery RDST Longtail Standard starts at $20,000, and the RDST Longtail Premium starts at $27,000.

With the ability to purchase an off-the-shelf delivery drone, businesses could unlock more opportunities to acquire more customers. In fact, nearly half of Americans (47%) said they would make a purchase from a specific retailer due to the option of a drone delivery program, according to Auterion’s 2022 “Consumer Attitudes on Drone Delivery” report.

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