In the minds of professional drone pilots, the Matrice 300 RTK from DJI has undeniably held its position as an industry-leading, multi-mission capable enterprise platform since its initial launch in 2020. Considering that the drone industry views a drone from just five years ago as equivalent to a Ford Model-T, the fact that enterprise operators are still keen on purchasing a brand new Matrice 300 RTK in 2023 speaks volumes about its reputation. Nevertheless, in an industry marked by constant technological advancements, even the best drones require updates and improvements over time.
DJI's response to the evolving landscape of the drone industry is the recently announced DJI Matrice 350 RTK, which can be seen as more of an upgrade rather than a revolutionary new model in this class of drones. Similar to when DJI released the Matrice 210 to update the original Matrice 200 model, at first glance, the Matrice 350 RTK exhibits more similarities than differences compared to its predecessor, the Matrice 300 RTK. In terms of physical appearance, the most notable differences between the two units are:
- An updated propeller design
- An updated battery
- An updated antenna design
- Slight different body paneling
TRANSMIT SIGNALS 5 KILOMETERS FURTHER THAN THE MATRICE 300 RTK
The Matrice 350 RTK utilizes DJI O3 Enterprise Transmission protocol, enabling a triple-channel live feed to be broadcasted at a resolution of 1080p. DJI also reports that this protocol allows for an increased maximum transmission distance of 20 km. This is supported by a hardware configuration that includes 4 antennas on both the drone and the controller, allowing for automatic switching between antennas to ensure the strongest connection. DJI is predicting that this will help negate interference and optimize transmission in challenging environments.
PERFORM IN MORE CHALLENGING WEATHER CONDITIONS
With an increased rating of IP55 on the drone itself and an established IP54 rating on DJI's RC Plus controller, the Matrice 350 RTK is expected to operate reliably even in dustier environments compared to the Matrice 300 RTK. The liquid rating remains the same, and the operating temperature range remains -20° to 50° C (-4° to 122° F).
BE MORE POWER-EFFICIENT
The Matrice 350 RTK adopts the new TB65 battery system, which works in pairs, allowing for hot swapping and continuous missions. While the capacity and discharge rate are similar to the previous TB60 batteries, the new TB65 batteries can be charged up to 400 cycles. This means operators can get twice as many flights out of each battery, resulting in potential cost savings.
PROVIDE IMPROVED FEEDBACK TO THE PILOT
The Matrice 350 RTK incorporates an updated lock detection mechanism, enhancing accuracy and significantly reducing the risk of taking off with an unlocked arm sleeve.
SEE FURTHER IN THE DARK
One of the key updates to the Matrice 350 RTK is the addition of an FPV camera with night-vision capabilities. For a while now, camera operators using the H20N could clearly see obstacles and other objects in the night’s sky. Now the Pilot will have the same functionality, and when used with the Pin Point function, pilots should have no problems operating their Matrice 350 RTKs after the sunset.
SEAMLESSLY INTEGRATE WITH ESTABLISHED DRONE PROGRAMS
While pilots know that drones are always a significant investment, those drones are usually half of the cost of the gimbaled payloads they carry. Luckily, Matrice 300 RTK operators can save some money when upgrading to a Matrice 350 RTK due to cross compatibility. DJI has confirmed that the full Zenmuse H20 series, the Zenmuse P1 and the Zenmuse L1 will work seamlessly with the new Matrice 350 RTK at launch. DJI is also encouraging 3rd party payloads by continuing to offer Payload and Mobile SDK access; however, as with the all 3rd parties payloads, the manufacturer will have to ensure their equipment works with the Matrice 350 RTK.
MATRICE 300 RTK UPDATES
The release of the Matrice 350 RTK has ushered in a number of upgrades that the Matrice 300 RTK can use as well. The most requested feature by far is the ability to use the DJI RC Plus controller with the Matrice 300 RTK. This is something that was asked for since it was first hinted at during the release of the Matrice 30 and 30 Thermal drones. A firmware update will be required to make the combination work, but DJI confirms that it is now possible. Matrice 300 RTK owners will also be able to update their power supply by using the TB65 Intelligent Flight Battery and the BS65 power station. DJI states that these new batteries can handle up to 400 recharges, compared to the 200 charges supported by the TB60 batteries at launch. This reduction in battery replacement frequency should lead to reduced operational costs for operators.
Compatibility available for:
- H20/H20T/H20N/P1/L1 (Payload needs update)
- CSM Radar
- TB60 Intelligent Flight Battery
- M300 RTK 2110 Propellers
- M300 RTK Gimbal Bracket
- D-RTK 2
- BS60 Battery Station (Update required)
WHO WILL BENEFIT THE MOST FROM THIS NEW SYSTEM?
Surveyors - Surveyors typically spend more time on equipment setup and packing than on actual mission flights. The increased flight range of the Matrice 350 RTK means less time spent on setting up a home point base, allowing surveyors to focus on their core tasks more efficiently. And hot-swapping batteries will let you get back to your mission faster. Pair this with the Zenmuse P1 (Photogrammetry camera) and/or Zenmuse L1 (LiDAR + RGB sensor), and surveyors should be able to capture more data, faster, each time they launch a mission.
The Mining Industry – Drones have been utilized by miners to ensure the safety of the chambers they excavate. However, navigating dark areas within mines has always been a challenge. With the Matrice 350 RTK’s standard inclusion of a night-vision FPV camera, operators can now see in the dark, regardless of the mining environment. This enhancement greatly improves safety and operational efficiency.
Energy Companies - Energy companies often fly in some of the toughest environments around the world to collect the resources that make the modern world turn. Thanks to the new IP rating of the Matrice 350 RTK, and the established temperature operating range, this ship can withstand the harshest environments far better than previous Matrice models could.
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Written by Bryan Calhoun, Solution Engineer at OmniView Tech, A Volatus Aerospace Company