Crashing DJI’s New Enterprise Drone – Matrice 3D and Dock 2 First Impressions

Okay, so last week I spent the entire day with the and the DJI Dock 2, and I have some thoughts. My purpose for spending time with the setup was to help AVSS put together a promo video for their parachute system that they're building for this drone. That's the small yellow cap that you'll be seeing just on top of the drone in most of my B-roll shots here.

The reason that this is important is because this drone was built to fly autonomously with very little human interaction, which of course begins to butt heads with the regulatory limitations. Rules like maintaining visual line of sight and no flight over people would really hinder the use of a fully autonomous system like the 2. But with the use of a parachute, it gives you the ability to submit waivers for these special operations.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Importance of Parachutes on Drones

This is why parachutes on drones are great. In case of a critical failure, like let's say you lose a motor and the drone comes tumbling from the sky, the parachute deploys and greatly mitigates the risk of someone being harmed on the ground.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

So therefore, when using a parachute on top of your drone, if you coordinate with let's say the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or Transport if you live up in Canada, you're able to get special waivers to fly over people and in situations where you otherwise wouldn't be able to without that parachute.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Parachute Deployment Test

Now I'm sure you're wondering, did we end up deploying the parachute? Did we let the Matrice 3D fall from the sky? And the answer is yes. The guys at AVSS have this one piece of land near their office that they use for testing, and this parachute is not just for show to use for the promo video that we were making. It's actually a functioning device.

The deployment of the parachute was a success. The descent was a success, and the landing was also a success. I definitely need to improve my tracking on descending objects, but nonetheless, you guys get the point.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Now the drone actually didn't break. The entire thing was fully intact after the deployment and landing, even the gimbal and camera were perfectly fine because of the rigid arms on the drone. I thought that it would have a higher risk of breaking, but it hit the ground with no damage to the drone at all.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Remember, these parachutes weren't specifically designed to mitigate damage to the drone as it hits the ground when it's falling from the sky. Instead, it slows down the descent of the drone, so just in case it hits someone on the ground, it's not going to greatly injure them.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

So therefore, by slowing the descent, it does mitigate damage done to the drone. It's not going to be as damaged as it would be if it fell at full speed in the air, but the main point of using one of these parachute systems is to protect those on the ground and not the actual drone itself.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

First Impressions of the Matrice 3D and Dock 2

Okay, moving on. Because I spent most of my time filming this promo video, I didn't really have time to actually play with the drone. I did, however, get pretty familiar with the system and did some poking around to see what we can expect from the drone, from the software that runs the dock, and from the actual dock itself.

I briefly had a chance to see the original DJI Dock in action during my time in Vegas at the conference. This was a large device and was pretty expensive, and utilized DJI's Matrice 30 drone. This is great and all, but the fact that DJI was trying to make a dock for a drone that already existed led to some issues.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Because the M30 series of drones was designed to fit in between the Mavic 3 Enterprise and the M300, it was fairly big, and the dock needed to be designed to protect the drone, give it enough space for landing and takeoff, and they had to create a charging solution.

In my opinion, this is more of a proof of concept. Like, hey, we need to start somewhere. We need to build our first dock. Let's do this. Let's make it for our most popular enterprise drone, and then build from there.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Improvements in the DJI Dock 2 and Matrice 3D

Fast forward a little over a year, and DJI's new Dock 2 is smaller and comes shipped with a drone that was made specifically for the dock. I think that this is the best way to go, because you can buy the system as one, and the drone can be designed with dock use in mind for easy and consistent operation.

The drone isn't flashy at all. It's not like the M30, M300, or any of DJI's consumer drones for that matter. It's just a gray shell that to me looks like a render or an unfinished drone. Like when I see this, I think of Porygon from Pokémon. No idea why. It's just the first thing that comes to mind.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

If you look at DJI's entire drone lineup, there really isn't one drone that doesn't fold or transform in some way for carrying or for transportation. The Mini drones, the Air, the Mavic, all the enterprise drones. Really the only rigid airframe is the and the .

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

So these arms that sit high off of the drone are actually a core design of the aircraft. As you see, it sits really comfortably inside of the dock. This allows the drone to be slightly off when landing, as the design of the dock funnels the drone down and in towards the center so that the doors can close and the drone can charge.

This takes out the margin of error from that original dock, where you were hoping it wasn't a windy day or that the drone was a little off when landing. This new design really is what I think makes the Dock 2 such a big improvement.

Use Cases for the DJI Matrice 3D

Now, I don't think the Matrice 3D or 3DT is going to be a drone you go and buy to use standalone and fly with a remote controller out of your backpack or out of a case. You're going to be buying a Enterprise or Mavic 3 Thermal in replacement of this drone, as again, it was made specifically for the dock. But that doesn't mean it's not a great drone.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

Even though it kind of looks again like a rendering or an unfinished drone, it still is very capable. So as for the design, most of the tech in this drone is very similar to the Mavic 3 lineup. You've got the new style camera hardware for the obstacle avoidance sensors in coordination with the old style cameras on the side here, which I would assume are placed the way that they are because of the tall arm design.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 1

The top of the drone is also interesting, as you have an RTK module built in along with a top-mounted light beacon for spotting it during flight at night. There's also a top mount for accessories and a port to allow those accessories to interface directly with the drone. In this case, AVSS's parachute is able to plug into the drone to draw power and also send commands to overwrite the flight of the drone.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Dji Matrice 3D &Amp; Dock 2 First Impressions

For example, when it comes tumbling down from the sky, the parachute can send a command to the drone to stop the motors. If these motors kept spinning, they would cut up the strings and make the parachute useless. It also could lacerate someone on the way down if those propellers were still spinning at maximum speed.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 2

Additional Features

Flipping down to the belly of the drone, we get a better look at those new obstacle avoidance sensors as well as another bottom set of vision positioning sensors and an auxiliary LED. This bottom light is not the same as that top light beacon. It's actually used to help the drone land in low light, while that top beacon is more so used for spotting in low light.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 3

Now finally, even though it doesn't look like much, this empty space here is where the charging happens. So when the drone lands, it starts to charge right through the plastic.

Something interesting I noticed about the propeller design is that they're mounted and sit in a way that they'll never cross over each other or sit on top of each other like they would with any of the other folding propellers from DJI. I would assume that this helps with autonomous operation so there's never a propeller error.

Fun fact: when the dock is closing in order to tuck the props inside, the motors slowly spin so that they don't get caught when the two doors close.

The final thing I want to show is this battery, which is intriguing for one reason, and that is the locking mechanism. In order to make sure that the battery doesn't come out from the drone, it has an extra pin that slides into place for extra security on both sides.

I personally like this a lot because it ensures the battery won't accidentally come out mid-flight. You can also see that orange rubber seal which keeps water out from the battery bay.

Drone Capabilities

Speaking of keeping water out, I suppose we should actually talk about what this drone is capable of. So yes, this drone has a water resistance rating of IP54, which means it can't be fully submerged in water, but it can handle the rainfall it might encounter when flying.

I also have to mention some standouts here, like the insane 50-minute flight time, the wind resistance rating of 26 mph, the top speed of 47 mph, and the maximum range of about 10 miles.

This drone unfortunately still uses OcuSync 3 as opposed to the new O4 transmission system that smaller drones like the Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro have.

This isn't a deal breaker to me at all though, as most of your missions will be conducted autonomously. So the drone will go out, do its thing, and then return when it's finished. Also, O3 is still a great transmission system.

Now I would say that probably the most important thing when it comes to a fully autonomous drone is flight time, and 50 minutes is all the flight time I could ask for out of one battery on a drone like this. I wonder if it's like the actual design of the drone that makes it more efficient or if because of the heavier battery that it uses.

That battery is fairly large and beefy, but nonetheless, 50 minutes of advertised flight time is great. DJI also says that when you land with 20% left in the battery, the dock can charge the drone from 20% to 90% in just 32 minutes. So there's really going to be very little downtime for this drone in between flights.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 12

And if you are somebody or a company that needs to have a drone in the air at all times, you might be able to get away with two docks right next to each other. When one drone is charging, the other can go up and take its position in the air for let's say overwatch, reconnaissance, or anything you might need the drones for.

Also just as a miscellaneous point, yes, this drone can be flown manually. It uses DJI's RC Pro controller and not the larger RC Plus that comes with the Matrice drones. So this comes with the same remote as the Mavic 3 Enterprise drones.

Camera Options

Okay, now let's touch on the camera, which is the final thing we have to discuss about the drone itself. Now there really isn't all that much new here, as this camera is basically the same one that is shipped on the Mavic 3 Enterprise line of drones.

There are two options: one with a mechanical shutter and that big 4/3 sensor, and the other has smaller color sensors in favor of a thermal camera. This means that the DJI Matrice 3D is going to be a great option for those that want high-quality color photos and for mapping.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 13

While the M3DT (the Matrice 3DT) is going to be a great option for those that want a thermal camera for specific use types like inspections and operations.

So the specs of this drone and the camera are in line with what we'd expect from a modern-day DJI drone. The speed is relatively the same. The camera is something that we've already seen. But to me, the big standout feature is that flight time from a drone that is fully autonomous. You want it to stay in the air for as long as possible, and personally, I couldn't expect anything more than 50 minutes from something that has this airframe and this style and this general size.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 14

DJI Dock 2 Features and Portability

Okay, now let's shift gears and talk a little bit about the dock. This thing is way smaller than the original dock that DJI made, thanks to the fact that it was specifically designed for a smaller aircraft. Like, this thing can be easily transported by a team of two people, put into the back of a van or an SUV, and transported around.

When I was up in Ottawa filming with the DJI Dock 2, we moved it around from spot to spot. I'd say that we went to about three or four different locations, and it only took about 10 minutes to set up when we went from place to place with a four-man team.

Now remember, a dock is supposed to be brought somewhere, set up, and then it's left there. So I'd say the setup is very easy, and the size is great. And if you want to be mobile with this thing and bring it around, it's really not going to be all that much of a hassle.

Now just to quickly run down some of the features, it has an air conditioning system, an internal and external security camera, a wind speed sensor, a rainfall sensor, a temperature sensor, a water immersion sensor, and an in-cabin temperature and humidity sensor.

This thing is loaded with tech to make sure that you can use it autonomously and not have to worry about being there in person. You get all the vital information you need at your fingertips.

Software Platform

Speaking of this software, I was able to get a quick screen grab of the platform that's used, but this is probably the thing that I had the littlest amount of time with. From a quick glance of seeing it being used just to simply launch and land the drone, it seems like it has everything that you could possibly need.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 15

It lets you view all of the system details, shows you the map, the location of the dock, and has plenty of other tabs to access details and information about your whole system.

So look, as I mentioned, I really didn't get all that much time to actually use this drone in a real-world scenario. I went up to Ottawa and I just simply made a promo video for another company. So therefore, it was kind of like me being a fly on the wall. I was able to see it being used, to see it being flown, to see the drone take off, land, and things of that nature.

But from what I know about other DJI drones and from what I've seen from the original DJI Dock, I think that the Dock 2 is a substantial upgrade. Like, Dock 1 as I mentioned was kind of like a proof of concept, where Dock 2 is something I could see someone actually purchasing and actually using on site.

DJI Dock 2 Pricing

Now speaking of purchasing, I think this is another huge bonus. The price is so good for what you get. Now, I've got it written down here.

The price of just the dock, the Dock 2 alone, is $9,000. The price of the M3D, so this is just the Matrice 3D with no thermal camera, is $4,373. And then the price of the Matrice 3DT, which is the thermal version, is $6,050.

So that means if you want to bundle these together and get the drone and dock, the M3D is going to cost you $13,370, and the M3DT with the dock is going to cost you $15,550.

Now I know you probably look at that price and think it is outrageously expensive. But for a fully kitted out drone and docking system that gives you all the functionality that DJI Dock 2 and the Matrice 3D and 3DT does, this is a great price point, especially when you look at what the cost of the Matrice 30 and the original dock was when put together. You're looking at like $30,000-$40,000.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 16

But now that you get the full kit for anything under $15,000 makes this a very viable option for someone that needs a solution like this.

Regulatory Challenges and Potential

I still think that we're kind of in this area where it's difficult to use because of regulations in like the and Canada, right, that don't allow beyond visual line of sight just right out of the gate. You need to go through a lengthy waiver process.

But once those operations become more attainable and more accessible, a docking system like this is going to be very, very tempting for even someone like myself that has construction sites that I monitor. I would love to buy docks, leave them on the site, and just let it do its thing and basically allow the drone to make money for me.

Crashing Dji's New Enterprise Drone - Matrice 3D And Dock 2 First Impressions 17

Final Thoughts

So again, this is a very promising look into the future here. DJI Dock 2 is a substantial upgrade over Dock 1, and I think that Dock 3, whenever it comes out, is going to be an even bigger upgrade than this. But Dock 2 already does so much.

Anyway, thank you guys so much for watching. Thanks to AVSS for having me up to check out this dock. Be sure to check them out. I'll leave links down below. Let me know your thoughts on Dock 2 and Matrice 3D and 3DT, and as always, I'll talk to you later. Peace.

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Billy Kyle
Billy Kyle

I make videos for the Internet. You can watch all of my drone videos on my YouTube channel and here on DroneXL.

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