Does the DJI mini 2 have obstacle avoidance [No but…]

Many modern drones have obstacle avoidance systems. The obstacle avoidance system allows you to avoid overhanging branches and other obstacles. It gives you an extra set of eyes in the sky when you focus on capturing the perfect photo or video. Many DJI drones come with obstacle avoidance, but the DJI mini 2 does not.

The DJI mini 2 does not have obstacle avoidance on the sides or top of the drone. However, it does have a downward pointing sensing system which allows it to detect its hovering height between 0.5 and 10 m.

The downward-pointing sensing system helps it land automatically and allows for one key takeoff and landing. The downward sensing system operates well on non-reflective surfaces with low diffuse reflectivity. It requires lighting of greater than 15 lx to operate normally.

DJI mini 2 have obstacle avoidance

The requirements for the downward sensing system to work efficiently are typically found in many normal flying environments. However, flying over water is definitely when the downward sensing system can fail. If you want to know how to fly safely over water with a drone, check out my other article – click here for the 12 tips.

What is obstacle avoidance?

Obstacle avoidance is when the drone uses sensors and visual positioning systems to map its local environment.

The data from the sensors and cameras allow the drone to avoid hitting overhanging environments and fly autonomously through complex 3D environments.

Skydio drone 3D mapping. From https://www.skydio.com/skydio-2-plus

Here are the types of sensors that modern-day drones utilise:

  • vision sensors – a vision sensor is typically accurate up to 25 m. It combines stereoscopic images to infer how far away something is, like our eyes.
  • Infrared sensor – infrared sensor uses infrared radiation to map the surroundings. The infrared beam is reflected off the surface and collected at the sensor.
  • Auxiliary light assists – some drones utilise light to see well in low light conditions.
  • LIDAR – lidar uses lasers to map the surroundings
  • Memory – some drones memorise the environment at a certain GPS location so that it helps them when they return to the same environment.

Many smaller drones do not offer obstacle avoidance because consumers prefer small drones. Because of the small form factor, it would be hard to squeeze in all of the appropriate sensing equipment and keep the drone under 250 g.

250 g is a target for many drone companies because drones that are heavier than 250 g regularly need extra licensing and training requirements.

Not using sensors also means that your drone’s price is very reasonable.

How to fly without obstacle avoidance

if you decide to purchase the DJI Mavic mini 2 and want to ensure that you fly safely even without obstacle avoidance, here are my top tips for making sure that you can return your drone safely every single time.

Always keep a line of sight

No matter what you are doing with your drone, make sure that you always keep it in line of sight. In some countries, you must follow this law and regulation.

When I am flying my drone, I always make sure that I have a direct line of sight to see that there is clear space around the drone. Without an obstacle avoidance system, you will have to be extra cautious.

Avoid places with overhanging obstacles

If you can, I would recommend avoiding places with overhanging obstacles so that there is no chance a fine branch or wire can catch you unaware.

I like to fly my drone in big open spaces like ovals, fields, and parklands. These areas ensure no trees nearby and that I am not likely to hit any overhanging wires. Doing a good survey of the area before taking off is an important step in determining the safety of your flight.

Have someone with you

If you are a new pilot or you have to fly in a particularly dangerous area, I would recommend taking a copilot with you to keep an eye on the drone at all times. I have been very distracted while taking photographs and getting the perfect shot for a client or fun.

When your attention is directed toward a screen and not towards your drone, it can be very easy to follow a subject into a dangerous area with plenty of overhanging obstacles.

Even having someone with you to run through the obvious safety aspects of the drone flight can be beneficial in finding things that you would have otherwise missed.

Also, flying a drone with someone is lots of fun as well.

DJI drones that have obstacle sensors

Many other DJI drones have obstacle sensors, including:

DJI DroneVision System
Mavic 3Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft
Air 2SForward, backward, downward, and upward vision system using binocular vision and time of flight (ToF) measurement below.
Air 2Forward, backward, downward, and upward vision system using binocular vision and time of flight (ToF) measurement below.
Mini 3 ProForward, backward, downward, and upward vision system using binocular vision. No Auxilliary light for landings
DJI FPVForward and downward binocular vision. Downward time of flight sensor and single LED auxiliary light.

Getting a drone with obstacle avoidance is perfect for the beginner drone pilot and the drone pilot who is distracted by taking photos. Ensuring that there are plenty of failsafes for your drone means that you will always be likely to safely return your drone to the landing spot after fun and exhilarating flight.

Benefits of obstacle sensors

Buying a drone with obstacle avoidance offers numerous advantages. My drone’s obstacle avoidance function has saved me from a near-fatal disaster. Even the tiniest twigs can bring your drone down, and an obstacle avoidance system can assist you in avoiding them.

Safety

The most important reason to acquire a drone with obstacle avoidance is safety. Obstacle avoidance will give you more confidence and safety when flying in complicated 3D landscapes.

I’ve flown my drone near trees a few times and have yet to notice a branch approaching the drone’s back. It can be unexpected when your drone informs you of something nearby because people are so concentrated on the screen and the first-person video perspective.

Peace of mind

For the first few flights, I was extremely protective of my drone. The location system cautioned me when I got too close to some overhanging objects. As a rookie pilot, this peace of mind was ideal.

The more money you spend on the drone, the more peace of mind you’ll get. Spending a little more on a drone with obstacle avoidance will make you feel better while operating at the beginning or at an unknown location.

Advanced shots

Many advanced automatic shots come included with a drone with obstacle avoidance. While capturing the subject or landscape, these automatic pictures perform incredibly cinematic and seamless motions. Follow me mode, active track, rocket, orbit, and many other advanced automatic shots.

It can be terrifying to send the drone into the sky with a single button press. On the other hand, Obstacle avoidance ensures that the drone returns safely and can quickly stop or navigate around various objects.

Flying indoors

Flying indoors is difficult since the GPS often fails, forcing the drone to rely on its optical location system. In cheap drones, relying on the optical positioning system isn’t always the greatest option, and obstacle avoidance will add an extra layer of safety while flying near walls, furniture, and people.

Summary

The DJI Mini 2 does not have obstacle avoidance. But it does have a downward sensing system for automatic landing.

Taking extra care when flying your drone without an obstacle avoidance feature is paramount for drone safety. If you want a DJI drone with obstacle avoidance, there are plenty of other options, including the new DJI Mini 3 Pro.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones. His favourite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!