To be fair, DJI hasn’t officially sponsored the flame-throwing drone (which appears to be a modified DJI S1000+) yet, but it did release a cool video highlighting a different drone it developed to help Chinese power companies inspect high voltage lines. The drone featured in the promo video is the M210 RTK, a new member of DGI’s Matrice series of drones built for industrial applications. The video shows it flying over mountainous terrain of the Yunnan province of China, where power lines are difficult for people to get to for inspection.
In the promo footage, Mingxing Mei, a team leader for the Zhaotong Power Control Center, says that before they started using drones a team could only inspect one or two of the massive pylon towers a day. With drones, Mei says his team is able to get ten times as many inspections done. They’re probably not having as much fun without being able to throw fireballs, but the drone is still pretty neat.
Although it lacks a flamethrower, the M210 RTK does come with some cool features to make power line inspection easier. Power lines emit a lot of electromagnetic radiation which can interfere with the compasses. The drone has a dual antenna system called the D-RTK which protects it from getting confused by the magnetic interference of the power lines, and allows it to fly near them safely. It also has a cool dual camera system that lets it fly around using both regular and thermal imaging at the same time.
The video claims that the M210 RTK, “eliminates the need for dangerous inspection practices.” And although the team at the Zhaotong Power Control Center in China is working with DJI to use safe power line inspection practices, the drones 800 miles east aren’t quite as safety-focused.
In Xiangyang, workers from the State Grid Corporation of China are also using DJI drones in their work. But in that case, they installed a remote controlled flame-thrower onto a DJI S1000+ octocopter and used it to burn trash off the lines. Their drone isn’t exactly regulation (and would likely cause the FAA a fit in the United States), but honestly, who’s going to argue with someone armed with a flying flamethrower. We don’t know whether Mei’s team also has a flamethrower drone, but who’s to say what happened to the M210 RTK after the official promo cameras stopped running.