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Zenmuse XT Review

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Product Review

DJI has decided to enter the industrial market with a flying platform equipped with a thermal camera. The new Zenmuse XT is a Zenmuse gimbal with a proprietary FLIR camera. In fact the thermal camera installed on the XT is essentially a FLIR Tau 2.

FLIR is a worldwide leader in thermal imagery. The Vue lineup products have been built as a small form factor in order to be installed on drones. So there is no big surprise to see that FLIR and DJI partnered up to create an amazing new device which is capable of offering a wide range of industrial solutions.

The Zenmuse XT makes aerial thermal imaging a really easy task. It’s a very successful match between DJI’s specialization in high precision gimbals with the market-leading thermal imaging of FLIR. This enables users such as emergency services or the agricultural industry to scan with unparalleled precision, over large areas, saving the results for in-depth analysis and reports.

The FLIR offers high-sensitivity infrared scanning at 640/30fps or 336/30fps (quality dependant on model), the XT’s camera provides precise temperature readings. Each sensor model comes with a choice of four lenses. While this is an impressive variety, it’s worth noting that you have to select your lens at the point of sale and it can’t be changed afterwards.

The required field of view will differ greatly and will depend to a large extent on the height of the drone over the filmed target. Both sensors are compatible with a 9, 13 or 19mm lens. For a wider field of view, the smaller sensor (336×256) takes a 6.8mm and the larger sensor (640×512) has a 7.5mm. Once you’ve made your decisions and got it up and running, the Zenmuse XT and its thermal camera will provide you with crisp imagery and 360° of smooth rotational movement.

As for now, the gimbal and thermal set-up is compatible with DJI’s Inspire 1, the Matrice 100 and the recently released Matrice 600 hexacopter. The drone can offer a lot of industrial solutions, revealing information that isn’t visible to human eyes.

The seamless integration of FLIR and DJI provides complete camera control through the Go app. This gives you real-time configuration of camera controls like color palette selection, isotherms, level and span adjustment, and zoom just to name a few. It also lets you control your video recording or still image capture settings with the press of a finger, making capturing the thermal data you need as seamless as possible.

The Zenmuse XT thermal’s ability to detect heat signatures and movement means the camera can be used effectively for security or surveillance applications, energy monitoring (by detecting heat loss from buildings, or hot-spots in cables or circuits overheat in an electricity substation) and much more. In agriculture, it can monitor nurseries and greenhouses, detecting disease in plants, scheduling irrigation, estimating yields, evaluating the maturity of fruit, and even bruise detection in fruits and vegetables.

The Zenmuse XT comes with a range of image enhancing options developed by FLIR. The features include digital detail enhancement that increases the dynamic range, helping to display faint objects and details more clearly. With its smart scene optimization feature it can enhance extremes in bi-modal scenes. It keeps images clear as it can adjust contrast relative to temperature difference.

Whether it’s used with DJI’s Inspire 1, the M100 or the M600, the Zenmuse XT can be in the skies in a matter of seconds. It is seamlessly integrated, with full access to features including the DJI Lightbridge video transmission system, automated Point of Interest, Course and Home Lock, Follow Me, and the DJI SDK.

There are many advantages when considering this excellent device. Its capacity to measure temperature and perform non-contact assessments and diagnoses, the enhanced long range imaging which reduces atmospheric interference and allows for better contrast, the accurate detection of people and animals, the ability to detect gas emissions, its visibility even in total darkness which allows for great quality imaging day or night and more.

When you get right down to it, the main purpose of any drone is to position a sensor in three-dimensional space; when that sensor is a FLIR thermal imager, you expand the possibilities for drone operators and thermal inspectors alike. Using FLIR thermal imaging from small drones brings new capabilities to dozens of applications like search and rescue, the inspection of power lines, cell towers, bridges, substations, and buildings, firefighting, precision agriculture, and natural resource and wildlife protection.

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