The DJI Mini 2 SE is DJI’s newest low-cost Mini drone, in a long line of Mini drones, released in March of 2023.
What makes the Mini 2 SE a popular drone is its familiar Mini 2 shape many have gotten accustomed to, its sub-250g weight, its various full-sized drone features, and importantly its low price tag.
With this low price tag comes the omittance of a few features, features more expensive drones have.
To keep the price down, the DJI Mini 2 SE does not have obstacle avoidance. It does, however, have downward vision positioning and infrared sensing sensors to aid in a stable hover.
In this article, we will discuss obstacle avoidance systems more in-depth, as well as why the Mini 2 SE does not have this system in place.
What is obstacle avoidance?
Drone obstacle avoidance systems are a series of sensors, in the form of cameras, infrared and ultrasonic sensors, as well as LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors.
Many drone obstacle avoidance systems employ a mixture of these sensors, with more expensive enterprise-level drones utilizing all four.
All of these systems gather detailed information on their environment.
Once that information is gathered and analyzed, all in milliseconds, it is then used in detecting potential obstructions and obstacles, thus enabling drones to avoid them.
Having obstacle avoidance is especially useful as drones have advanced to the point of fully autonomous flight, as is seen in the case of DJI’s Active Track functions and Litchi’s waypoint mission-based platform (more on this later).
Obstacle Avoidance Cameras (vision sensors)
As with any camera system, the cameras in an obstacle avoidance system are used to take visual data of the environment (in the form of pictures and video) and then are analyzed by the drone’s computer to recognize and track objects and obstacles in the immediate area.
Obstacle avoidance camera systems are common vision systems on many drones but suffer from various outside influences and conditions, such as lack of light or even the speed at which the drone is moving.
Because of this, when DJI drones are in Sport mode, the vision sensors are disabled.
Where obstacle avoidance cameras and vision sensors struggle to provide accurate data in low light and high-speed environments, infrared sensors can gather data based on, not light, but instead, the heat emitted by objects in the environment.
The usefulness of these sensors comes into play in very low to no-light situations and areas where fog and smoke are an issue.
Infrared sensors are generally found on drones that are deployed in emergency response situations or when looking for missing persons or lost pets.
The most common and inexpensive sensors in the line-up are ultrasonic sensors.
These sensors send out soundwaves (sonic) into the environment and then calculate the time it takes the wave to hit an object and return to the sensor.
These are very effective in any lighting condition, and quite accurate, but have their limitations in that small objects like tree branches and power lines are difficult to detect, if even at all.
LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging systems are expensive and power-hungry systems used in more costly enterprise and commercial-grade drones.
LiDAR systems use lasers to measure the distance between the drone and objects and obstacles in the drone’s flying environment.
After this, a detailed 3D map of the drone’s surroundings is created, with the drone able to fly through said environment easily.
While highly accurate, again, this type of system is expensive and not often seen in consumer drone applications.
Benefits of obstacle avoidance
The main benefit of obstacle avoidance is safety.
With obstacle avoidance on and, in DJI drones APAS (Advanced Pilot Assitance System) set accordingly, drones will work out solutions to either stop prior to hitting an object or work their way around the obstacle in the environment, avoiding additional objects.
As it goes with obstacle avoidance, we always suggest pilots not to fully rely on these systems, as they are not infallible.
There have been plenty of recorded tests online where drones have misread the immediate surroundings and crashed into objects, whether moving objects or stationary.
The second benefit of obstacle avoidance systems is being able to perform fully autonomous flight patterns.
DJI is well-known for including intelligent flight modes, like Focus Track, in their more expensive drones that have obstacle avoidance.
With Focus Track you are able to use Active Track, Spotlight, and POI (Point of Interest) modes to follow and film a subject in various ways, without having to control the drone whatsoever.
Likewise, DJI and 3rd Party companies have various waypoint flights where you can tell the drone where to go through using a series of flags or markers and the drone will do the mission, again, without any additional stick input from the operator.
Likewise, we always suggest you not fully rely on obstacle avoidance in these situations and stay alert to airborne dangers.
The third benefit of obstacle avoidance is the ability to fly drones indoors with fewer worries.
Flying indoors for some can be stressful, as there are a lot more obstacles indoors than out, some of these expensive, some of these in the form of overactive pets that will hunt down a drone and ground it.
With obstacle avoidance activated indoors, the drone will be able to better avoid walls, fans, lamps, ceilings, vases, and whatever else might be in a home. Adding props guards up the protection even more.
Does DJI Mini 2 SE have obstacle avoidance?
Sadly, the Mini 2 SE does not have obstacle avoidance, as it has no vision or ultrasonic sensors for this purpose.
For many, this is a slight disappointment, as there is a Mini DJI drone in the Mini line-up that does indeed have obstacle avoidance, the Mini 3 Pro. Albeit at a higher price tag.
Why doesn’t the DJI Mini 2 SE have obstacle avoidance?
The Mini 2 SE is appealing because it is a relatively cheap sub-250g DJI drone, the cheapest new Mini drone from DJI.
The problem isn’t that the Mini is too small for obstacle avoidance, as the Mini 3 Pro has all of the necessary sensors in place to accomplish this.
The Mini 2 SE doesn’t have obstacle avoidance because it all boils down to price.
The Mini 2 SE is DJI’s newest cost-effective Mini drone, the stripped-down version of the Mini 2. It is accessible to many, in various countries.
Adding obstacle avoidance would raise the cost in two significant ways:
- Onboard Processing
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08/18/2023 11:49 am GMT
As mentioned earlier we talked about four of the sensors that go into an obstacle avoidance system.
Omitting the LiDAR, and just looking at any of the other sensors: Camera, Ultrasonic, and Infrared, they all incur cost. Costs that would push the price of the drone into the Mini 3 Pro territory.
This one is a little bit harder to envision pricing differences.
Because of the way obstacle avoidance works, after data is gathered about the flight environment (whether visually or sonically), that data needs to be worked into something useful for the drone to act on.
That data needs to be analyzed and processed and this is done onboard via the drone’s processor or computer. The more processing power needed, the higher the cost of the computer.
If you have ever looked into buying a PC or Mac you know this all too well. Higher-spec computers cost significantly more.
The Mini 2 SE does not need to process the data from various sensors for obstacle avoidance, resulting in savings in cost, as a more expensive processor is not needed.
Can you add obstacle avoidance on DJI Mini 2 SE?
While there are ingenious people in the drone world who can build practically anything, adding obstacle avoidance to the Mini 2 SE would be extremely difficult, if even at all possible.
With the time and expense required to even attempt such a feat, it would be more time and cost-effective to just buy a Mini 3 Pro, if you are wanting a DJI-branded sub-250g drone with obstacle avoidance.
Likewise, DJI doesn’t provide snap-on or screw-on obstacle avoidance systems for their drones that currently do not have obstacle avoidance capabilities built in.
Likewise, the DJI Fly app does not have obstacle avoidance support built in for the Mini 2 SE, as it does for the Mini 3 Pro.
If it was even possible to fashion some sort of obstacle avoidance system for the Mini 2 SE, DJI Fy wouldn’t be able to activate it or use it.
What other sensors does DJI Mini 2 SE have?
If you were to look at the bottom of the Mini 2 Se, you’ll see that it does indeed have some sort of sensors on the bottom. These are the downward vision and infrared sensing systems.
Both of these systems, combined with GPS positioning ensure that the Mini 2 SE can hold its position when hovering, all within a 3.9″ accuracy range, per DJI.
With these systems all in place, the Mini 2 SE is also capable of more stable flight while indoors.