The Mavic Mini is one of the smallest HD drones on the market right now, and it actually performs well. If you are looking to get into drones, but don’t want to break the bank, this could be what you are looking for.A few weeks ago, DJI announced their Mavic Mini, a 249-gram drone that can shoot 2.7K at 30 fps and take 12-megapixel stills. This drone was more than likely designed for people who want to get into drones. However, it is also another consideration for professional pilots as a drone they can travel with or try risky shots with without damaging more expensive equipment. After seeing plenty of videos and reviews on this drone, I think it’s safe to say that for $400, you may not get anything better.Controller and PerformanceThe Mavic Mini controller is very similar to the Mavic Air controller, just minus a few buttons in the middle. The drone does still have sport and cinema mode, but it must be switched in the app. As far as controllers go, these are fairly small and pack down well. The knobs come off and tuck inside the controller so that it can sit flush in your pocket or bag without breaking the sticks. Once you are familiar with the DJI controllers, they get more and more comfortable, and this controller is very comparable to the whole Mavic line of controllers.When it comes to handling and shooting with Mavic Mini, I have to say that I was shocked it performs as well as it does. The battery life was also really great compared to other drones like this, with flight times around 15-20 minutes, easily. If you wanted to fly another drone this small, it would probably be an FPV drone and you would be lucky to get 5-10 minutes flight time.I was able to achieve smooth pans, long shots, and complicated camera moves just as I can on Mavic 2 or even Inspire 2. Where I started to see a little trouble was when wind kicked into play, and the little motors on Mavic Mini began to struggle. Therefore, this may be a great travel drone because of its size and weight, but keep an eye on this thing if you are flying in bad weather conditions, because it may take a little more effort to execute your shot. I will share some footage from this drone below.Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Air, Mavic MiniWeight and SizeThis was the biggest deal for DJI: a small drone that anyone can buy and fly without registering with the FAA. I am a little against the idea of that for one reason: I think it is super important for people looking to invest in drones to also invest their time in understanding the rules and regulations of their country/state. Being so light, DJI had to remove features such as obstacle avoidance and Active Track modes. They did leave a few options on there for quick shots, but nothing as extravagant as what the Mavic Air or Mavic 2 can do. I personally don’t think this should be an issue for anyone, because if you want to fly a drone, you should know how to control it too.Mavic Mini Battery, Mavic Air Battery, Mavic 2 Battery, and Mavic MiniThe size of Mavic Mini is small, like Mavic 2 battery small or smartphone small. This drone is really not that big or heavy. As a pilot myself, size and weight can be an issue depending on what I am looking to do. In many cases, I have no problem carrying around a bigger drone like the Mavic 2 that will get me better quality, range, and performance off the bat versus making up a reason to carry around a Mavic Mini. For me, Mavic Mini is more of a toy drone that I can try stupid things with or even better put, it is a stable FPV drone that I can fly inside and in tight spaces.Photo/Video QualityCompared to Mavic Air, the Mavic Mini does not shoot raw photos in the classic DNG format, and it also cannot shoot 4K. The Mavic Air is bigger, heavier, and has a bit more tech packed inside to allow it to do what it does. For people looking to shoot during the day, Mavic Mini will serve you just fine, but if you are looking for more push and pull when it comes to editing, the Mavic Mini is only okay. I will show some footage below so you can get an idea of the quality.
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Elbit Systems in Israel unveiled its MAGNI, a micro unmanned aerial system, that weighs 2.5 kg and is a multi-rotor VTOL so it can be launched from a vehicle and give platoons or squads situational awareness. “We wanted to give infantry a tactical eye-in-the-sky,” says Erez Meir of Elbit’s Multi-Rotor business unit. It is a “revolution” for armed soldiers and their vehicles operating in convoys for instance, which will now have the ability to launch numerous micro-drones to conduct surveillance day or night.
MAGNI is the smallest of five drones that are made by Flying Production in Rosh HaAyin Israel. Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies, acquired Flying Production earlier this year. Designers got to the MAGNI after producing a slightly larger small drone called THOR that has a range of 10 km and weighs 10 kg. Militaries have been consuming drones at a rapid pace in the last few years as technology outpaces what defense companies have been able to provide. That means commercial drones, like DJI quadcopter UAVs were being used by the U.S. Air Force and other branches. This is despite the concerns about security that come along with Chinese-made commercial drones.
Meir says that the new MAGNI fits into a line of Elbit drones using similar software and compatibility with a battle management system. Recently Elbit sold more than one thousand of the THOR UAVs to a southeast Asian country. So many UAVs speak to the fact that countries doing counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency efforts can equip soldiers down to the smallest unit with micro-UAVs or launch them from vehicles to provide a company or platoon with all its surveillance or ISR needs. “It’s the future of maneuver,” says Meir. The design makes the UAV easy to carry and it can provide 360-degree views.
The main issue here is that components and technology are always advancing and getting smaller and more lightweight. For instance, having a cooled thermal imaging camera on a drone can give a unit the ability to see further. The THOR mini-drone has been outfitted with twenty-five different payloads, the developers say. And they have been “battle-proven through operations.” Like with a lot of this technology, Israeli companies tend to be tightlipped on which battlefields they might have operated or who has operated them. But the vision is clear, drones like this will be part of every level of battalion operations from squads to platoons, says Meir.
One of the issues militaries faced when they wanted smaller drones for squads and platoons is that the DJI or other commercial drones is that you’ll be using 2.4GHz Datalink with an iPad or something similar. But commercial drones are susceptible to technology that can jam or disrupt their frequency. Military drones on other frequencies, that operate in a GPS-denied environment, are more versatile and can do targeting and other things that commercial drones can’t accomplish. That is why companies like AeroVironment were successful with small drones like the 1.9 kg Raven. Other militaries such as Australia are looking to develop small armed tactical UAVs.
Coming out of the experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war against ISIS that stretches across the Sahel to the Philippines makes it clear how necessary micro-drones are becoming. But there is a learning curve here trying to figure out how many little drones the infantry soldier can carry or how many should be equipped as standard on armored vehicles. The U.S. Army even fast-tracked a $40 million contract with FLIR Systems for tiny 18 gram Black Hornet personal reconnaissance systems.
Israel has been integrating drones, which it pioneered, for decades. Micro-UAS have been used for a variety of missions. This leadership in technology and seeing how drones can be incorporated effectively likely gives MAGNI, THOR and similar vehicles a leg-up because it has overcome some stumbling blocks that other types of drones have had on the tactical level.
Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum. He is writing a book on the Middle East after ISIS. Follow him on Twitter at @sfrantzman.
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An American drone seemingly lost over Libya in November was actually shot down by Russia, the US military said.
Russian forces may not have realized the unarmed drone belonged to the United States when they took it down, the military told Reuters.
“They certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it. They say they don’t know where it is but I am not buying it,” General Stephen Townsend, who leads the US Army’s African Command, told the wire service.
Russian mercenaries operating in the country may have been responsible, Libya’s Government of National Accord said.
Russia officially denies using mercenaries in any foreign country, insisting any of their citizens engaged in civil conflict abroad were acting as volunteers. Libya’s government says the mercenaries are there to support Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the country’s civil war.
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- Declarative Assembly of Web Applications From Predefined Concepts — To build an app, the developer imports concepts from the catalog, tunes them to fit the application’s particular needs via configuration variables, and links concept components together to create pages. Components of different concepts may be executed independently, or bound together declaratively with dataflows and synchronization. The instantiation, configuration, linking, and binding of components is all expressed in a simple template language that extends HTML. (via Morning Paper)
- Programmers and Experience — Uncle Bob’s rough estimate of the number of programmers doubling every five years has a necessary consequence: it means that half the programmers out there have less than five years’ experience. That sentence blew my mind.
- The Commuting Paradox — 2004 paper that finds people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being. Something I feel acutely. Interestingly, the Hacker News comments have stories from people who feel invigorated by their commute.
- Amazon Builders Library — a lot of great documentation on how Amazon builds and operates software.
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Illegal drones cause headaches
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