New GDU O2 Drone Sets Sights on DJI Fans

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The drone industry has been waiting a while for rivals of DJI to step up to the plate. Particularly competitors from the US and Europe such as GoPro and Parrot. But it’s starting to look like the industry’s leading manufacturer has more to worry about at home than abroad. Another Chinese drone maker, GDU, has just launched a new drone, the GDU O2, at InterDrone 2017.

According to GDU, the O2 covers has all ingredients to be the “perfect storm” of drone technology. Namely: advanced functionality, portability, a 3-axis gimbal, safety features and a top-quality camera.

GDU Takes a Swipe at DJI

The GDU press release doesn’t pull any punches, although it stops short of mentioning DJI’s Mavic Pro directly:

While several companies have released their versions of GDU’s foldable design, touting their ability to fit into small bags, most are still priced too high or focus on a single use case (like selfies) making their usability less marketable across all age groups. To solve the problem of usability, GDU once again created an industry-first by giving the O2 arms that slide inside the body to give it the smallest form factor and extreme endurance by making the arms out of aviation grade aluminum alloy.

The main thing GDU wants to point out is that it offers better value for money than DJI.

“Drones are quickly becoming mainstream, but even with some new releases, no drone before this has really hit that perfect mark of being more competitively priced and easy to use without sacrificing quality and functionality,” stated Nicolia Wiles, GDU’s director of digital. “The new GDU O2 is versatile enough to appeal to both newbies and experienced users alike.”

The GDU O2: What Makes it So Special?

new gdu 02

We’re not entirely convinced. But it looks like there are two reasons you might consider going for a GDU O2 over, say, a DJI Mavic Pro or a Spark.

First up is the level of portability. Instead of arms that fold and leave the props exposed, the GDU 02 has sliding-arms that hide the props inside the body. The controller also slides into a space in the drone to make the whole thing one simple-to-carry package.

The problem they are solving is this: “Who cares if a drone fits in your pocket, but you have to carry the controller in a separate bag?”

The second standout feature is the price: a relatively reasonable $732.

Aside from that, pilots can expect a fully-stabilized 4K camera, forward and downward obstacle avoidance, a visual navigation system and all the usual smart flight modes, including gesture recognition.

Available for Pre-order: GDU 02

gdu o2

In terms of performance, the GDU O2 offers 20 minutes of flight time and a video transmission range of 0.6 miles. It can perhaps be pitched as a middle ground between the DJI Spark and the Mavic Pro.

If customers pre-order the $732 GDU 02 package before the end of this month, they will receive a free backpack and battery worth $300. The GDU 02 pre-orders will ship in October.

Tempted? It might be worth waiting for the GDU O2 Plus, which will officially launch next month with upgraded features and extended video transmission distance. It’s not entirely clear which market GDU is targeting with this drone. It’s difficult to see it being used by professionals when $200-$300 more could buy a Mavic with 10 minutes more flight time.

And you’d think that newcomers to the hobby would go with the beginner-friendly options like the DJI Spark. There’s plenty of competition out there when it comes to camera drones – shop around before to find which one best suits your needs and expectations.

Read more: The Ultimate Drone Buyers Guide

GDU O2 Flight modes

Follow-Me Mode: Uses a visual sensor to detect the target and follow the target with a set distance.

Orbiting Function: Uses visual sensor to detect the target and circle around it with the camera facing the target.

Smart Shot: With the smart shot modes, the O2 can take 10-second short videos in three different pre-set flight modes: Circle, Rocket and Dronie.

Smart Shot: With the smart shot modes, the O2 can take 10-second short videos in three different pre-set flight modes: Circle, Rocket and Dronie.

Selfie Mode: The O2 will identify an object and fly to a pre-set distance to get the best shot – both photos and videos are available in this mode.

Burst Mode: The O2 will taking five burst pictures with five different zoom specs from the same spot with a single button press to give multiple perspectives in one shot.

Vertical Burst: The O2 will take off vertically with camera facing down in 3m/s speed while take continuous pictures every two seconds to give multiple perspectives in one shot.


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