Parrot also owns Pix4D - a popular photogrammetry software. This is leveraged by Parrot to enable the drone to upload data directly to Pix4D Cloud
, automating an otherwise manual process. This sounds great on paper until you do the math. An average flight can generate up to 2GB of data. With typical 4G speeds
you’ll need ~28 minutes to upload it (assuming your 4G connection is stable).
But the drone has an advertised flight time of 32 minutes! Even in a city with one of the best 4G penetration, I still often face issues with connection loss and low speeds. The Anafi Ai is not immune to such issues. Even under the best scenario, the practicality of waiting for the drone to finish a slow upload is unappealing.
I agree with Romeo - connected drones are the future. I see a future where autonomy is ubiquitous with every drone connected to a network. SD cards are a cumbersome means of data transfer and should be eliminated (except in some cases
). But the Anafi Ai is ahead of it’s time here. It’s 2021, and the Anafi Ai would be peak-2021 if it were a 5G drone. But even 5G’s upload speeds wouldn’t help it reach it’s potential. So, is the product dead on arrival?
Perhaps not. Apart from the nature inspired design
, Parrot wants to highlight a couple of features that enterprises might find relevant. It has an SDK for app developers, and plugs into the popular open-source Mavlink ecosystem
, has cybersecurity certifications, and has a 48MP camera that Parrot insists is optimized for photogrammetry.
About that camera - Parrot really wants to show you that it’s better than the Phantom 4 Pro despite the smaller sensor size. You see, having a larger sensor size
is strongly correlated with good image quality and ground resolution
. Most popular DJI drones have a 1-inch sensor while the top-of-the line P1 camera
has a full-frame sensor that’s 8 times larger. The Anafi Ai has a ½ inch sensor that’s less than half that of the Phantom 4 Pro.
But fret not, the Anafi Ai has a trick up it’s folding arms - it makes up for the smaller sensor by having a larger 48MP image. That’s about 2.4x more pixels than the Phantom 4 Pro. This leads to the parrot being able to capture the same amount of detail as the Phantom while flying much higher.
- 4G connectivity might not see enough real world use cases.
- Direct upload to Pix4D cloud is too slow for the Anafi Ai’s flight times
- Bio inspired design doesn’t matter to enterprises if it’s not useful
- The camera might be the main redeeming feature of the drone
There is one thing we still don’t know about the drone which can make or break the product’s success - it’s price. If it’s priced around $2000, it’ll compete with the Phantom 4 Pro V2 and the Mavic 2 pro, being a competitive product. But that’s unlikely because it’s an enterprise drone. And that means it’s most likely to be priced similar to Parrot’s previous enterprise drone - the Anafi USA
edition at $7000.
At this price point, it faces competition from the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
, and the Skydio X2
. Tough competition, but one Parrot is perhaps more equipped than others to handle. Only if it’s priced competitively, will the Anafi Ai have a fighting chance. The drone is expected to reach customers “in the second half of 2021”, so we’ll have to wait and see how it fares in the real world.
Speaking of pricing, having a product at the right price point matters a lot. In the second story for the week, we see how the DJI Mini SE does just that 👇