Review: The Easy and Intuitive DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ Is Popular with Public Safety Agencies

The popular drone comes equipped with controls and equipment that make flying simple.

Public safety agencies truly accelerated their deployment of drones beginning in 2014, and unmanned aerial vehicles from DJI quickly emerged as a favorite. The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College last year surveyed 315 law enforcement and public safety agencies with drones and discovered 252 of them use at least one DJI drone for various purposes, including search and rescue, accident reconstruction and recovering stolen property.

Among the most popular of the DJI drones, the Phantom 4 Pro+ is a ­state-of-the-art consumer-grade ­quadcopter featuring a rigid design and an iconic ­white-and-gray color scheme. The unit, which weighs about 3.1 pounds, is identical to the Phantom 4 Pro, but adds a 5.5-inch Android tablet affixed to the remote controller.

Simple Controls Make Setup a Breeze

The controller includes 16 gigabytes of storage and a microSD card slot to hold more if desired. A full-sized HDMI port allows users to also add an external monitor. The superbright screen connects to the base by a rotating arm that allows users to find the perfect viewing angle.

Setup was easy. Charging the drone and controller was simple, and navigating the touch screen made creating the required DJI account a breeze. What impressed me the most about the 4 Pro+ was how intuitive it is to fly. This drone’s ability to hold its position while hovering also impressed me. And its landing gear includes obstacle avoidance sensors.

Stress-Free Operation Allows for Smooth Flying

The drone offers several intelligent flight modes. In Draw mode, users can simply draw a route on screen for the Phantom 4 Pro+ to follow while keeping the altitude locked. For those new to flying drones, Return to Home mode makes flying almost stress-free, and allows the unit to automatically choose the best return route. Because it records its route as it flies, the drone can return along the same route and avoid obstacles if the control signal disconnects.

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The camera, suspended from a ­three-axis gimbal and attached to the drone’s undercarriage, boasts a 1-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing 20-megapixel stills and 4K video. During testing, the video footage I shot was crisp and clear, and photos were bright and vibrant. Even in moderate winds, the gimbal stabilization produced no shake or bounce. As police departments continue to embrace drones, the Phantom 4 Pro+ provides them with an appealing and versatile option.

Drones Offer Better City and Site Planning

As a middle school video production teacher, I researched and tested my share of drones before choosing the best one. I was looking for the right balance between ease of use and high-quality video footage. I concluded that the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ blends the two perfectly, and it easily became my top choice.

Across the country, school districts, city managers, law enforcement agencies, and real estate professionals are starting to use drones to achieve high-quality aerial shots for a variety of reasons. School districts use drones to survey property for new school sites, while video production teachers like me use them to achieve sweeping, cinematic shots without bulky equipment such as cranes and dollies.

City managers use drones to showcase new buildings and boast large crowds at city-sponsored events; law enforcement agencies and security companies are starting to use drones as an alternative to pricey helicopters, providing cost-effective aerial surveillance and improving public safety.

For individuals who are part of a federal, state or local government and wish to fly an unmanned aerial system to support a specific mission, such as search and rescue, the Federal Aviation Administration outlines three ways one can obtain clearance to fly a UAS for work or business purposes:

  1. By following the requirements in the Small UAS rule (Part 107)
  2. By following the rules in your Section 333 grant of exemption
  3. By obtaining an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft

For more information, visit the FAA FAQ on drones.

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro+

Communication Distance: 4.3 miles
Flight Time: 30 minutes
Controller Display: 5.5 inches, 1920x1080 resolution
Global Navigation Satellite System: GPS; GLONASS
Camera Sensor: 1-inch CMOS
Photo Resolution: 20 megapixels
Video Resolution: Up to 4K

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Jun 21 2018