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10 Best DJI-Compatible Drone Docking Stations To Consider for Autonomy

Find out the best DJI-compatible docking stations in the market that you can leverage based on your geography, business model, & use case.

Last updated on

May 16, 2022

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https://www.flytbase.com/blog/dji-compatible-docking-stations

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The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 revealed several operational challenges in performing manual drone flights for a variety of use cases such as inspections and progress monitoring. As a result, using automation technology has become more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. However, the monolithic nature and prohibitively high cost of existing drone-in-a-box (DiaB) systems for autonomous UAV operations have slowed their adoption.

As a result, several companies are working with the "Open Diab Approach" modularizing the DiaB stack to reduce costs and increase adoption. These companies are developing automated docking stations for popular off-the-shelf drones like the DJI Mavic and Matrice series, which support charging/swapping of batteries, cooling, and landing.

Fast forward to 2022, DJI enters the world of drone docking stations with the recently announced DJI Dock, providing a much-needed boost to drone autonomy. This would make docking stations a de facto accessory for drones in the same way that cameras became a standard payload for drones a few years ago. Apart from DJI Dock, there are several great docking stations already in production, ready to help you get started with automating your existing drones for a wide range of applications, such as automated aerial security, asset monitoring, public safety & emergency response.

Drone Docking Station (Drone-in-a-Box)
Drone Docking Station (Drone-in-a-Box)

In this article, we highlight the salient features of some of the best turnkey DJI-compatible docking stations in the market that you can leverage based on your geography, business model, and use case. Apart from common features such as cloud connectivity, remote control & telemetry, auto-charging, and interactive GUI, each dock brings a unique set of capabilities to the market, which we have attempted to highlight. It is worth noting that most of these drone nests can be further customized on request or by installing addons.

1. DJI Dock 2

DJI Dock 2
DJI Dock 2

The DJI Dock 2 is a compact, portable drone docking station, optimized for autonomous operations with Matrice 3TD and Matrice 3D drones. Weighing just 34kg, it enables swift and cost-effective drone dock deployment. Its IP55 durability ensures resilience in harsh environments.

Additionally, the integrated dual RTK modules and fisheye cameras offer real-time environmental feedback. Charging from 20% to 90% in 32 minutes at 12V, it ensures over 5 hours of operation. With biannual maintenance requirements, DJI Dock 2 minimizes downtime and costs, making it an efficient solution for autonomous drone operations.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Matrice 3D, Matrice 3TD
  • Weight: 34 kg
  • Charge time: 32 mins (20% to 90%)
  • Weather resistant: IP55 Rating

2. Hextronics Global Advanced

Hextronics Global Advanced Drone Dock
Hextronics Global Advanced Drone Dock

The Hextronics Global Advanced supports a rugged, waterproof design that is ideal for a wide range of indoor/outdoor environments and can operate in a temperature range of -20°C to +50 °C (-4 to +122 °F). Although the most recent model weighs up to 45 kg (~100 lbs), a clear differentiator of this docking station is its IP66-level enclosure and highly efficient in-house charging feature, where a robotic gantry autonomously performs battery swapping for the drone.

Further, the base unit can hold up to 6 additional batteries and keeps them fully charged while the drone is away on routine missions. And despite its small and lightweight design, The Global Advanced does not compromise on any key feature, offering a groundbreaking downtime of just 1.5 min. It is compatible with the DJI Mavic 2 series of drones and its landing pad is installed with LED lights to enable night landing.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Mavic 2 series 
  • Weight: 45 kg 
  • Swap time: 90 sec 
  • Weather resistant: IP66 

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3. Hextronics Atlas M300

Hextronics Atlas 300 Docking Station
Hextronics Atlas 300 Docking Station

The Hextronics Atlas M300 is another battery-swapping drone docking station compatible with the DJI M300 series. It can hold up to eight batteries at once and swap the drone batteries in less than 90 seconds to keep the drone ready for its next flight. It is pre-integrated with FlytBase and can be controlled remotely in temperatures ranging from -30°C to 65 °C.

The Atlas drone dock has a built-in HVAC heating and cooling system. Its rugged anodized aluminum body has prepared it for outdoor harsh weather conditions.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Matrice 300 RTK
  • Weight: 135 kg 
  • Swap time: 90 sec 
  • Weather resistant: IP66 

4. IDIPLOYER Nexus

IDIPLOYER Nexus Dock
IDIPLOYER Nexus Dock

The IDIPLOYER Nexus is a lightweight docking station with an insulated aluminum body. It is a drone charging station with a 45-minute charging time. The safety of the drone and docking station is never jeopardized because the dock has internal and external CCTV cameras for 24x7 surveillance, as well as a tamper alarm with a GPS. Furthermore, there is an automatic fire system to ensure that the drone remains safe in the event of a mishap. It is weatherproof IP55 tested and can withstand temperatures ranging from -10°C to 45 °C.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Mavic 2 series
  • Weight: 40 kg 
  • Charge time: 45 mins
  • Weather resistant: IP55‍

5. Heisha D80 (PRoC)

Heisha D80 Dock
Heisha D80 Dock

The D80 Drone Dock is highly customizable owing to its modular design: the unit consists of 3 main modules, viz. control, charging, and cooling, and an all-aluminum alloy canopy that has been tested for rigidity. So if you’re a custom drone developer and your hangars have docking and battery-swapping capabilities, you only need a control unit, which is a component that Heisha provides separately.

What’s more: the D80 redefines drone agnosticism in the DiaB space, as it is compatible with almost every commercial drone available today, including the DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic Mini series, Phantom 4 RTK, Autel EVO II, Yuneec Typhoon, and Parrot ANAFI. It weighs a decent 45 kg and can withstand temperatures between -20 °C and +50 °C (-4 °F and +122 °F). To learn more about the D80 and other drone charging pads designed by Heisha.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Mavic 2 series
  • Weight: 75 kg 
  • Charge time: 45 mins
  • Weather resistant: IP54

6. Heisha D135

Heisha D135 Drone Dock
Heisha D135 Drone Dock

The Heisha D135 has a canopy-like structure that enables a sturdy and durable shell that is compact. It is compatible with the DJI M300 drone and charges it completely in 1.5 hours. The docking station includes an electronic weather station that monitors the surrounding conditions, as well as multiple protection gears that provide over-voltage and anti-reverse connection alerts. Furthermore, it has an integrated air conditioner that allows it to operate in any environment and weather, control the drone remotely, and obtain real-time drone status.

The dock's single-axis rotation structure allows for simplified mechanical motion, resulting in dependable performance and reduced maintenance.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI M300 RTK 
  • Weight: 275 kg 
  • Charge time: 90 mins
  • Weather resistant: IP54

7. CounterDome

CounterDome Drone-in-a-box
CounterDome Drone-in-a-box

CounterDome is the only drone-agnostic multi-UAV docking station, allowing it to be used for a wide range of autonomous operations, from site security to asset inspection. Its dome-shaped enclosure and circular surface enable it to wirelessly charge and house two drones simultaneously. CounterDome is an excellent choice if you want to conduct two distinct autonomous operations. When there is no time to wait to swap batteries or charge the drone during a high-critical mission, you can deploy it while one drone is charging and the other is ready to fly.

Key features

  • Compatible drones: DJI Mavic 2 series, DJI Matrice Series, Custom drones built on Ardupilot
  • Weight: 66 kg 
  • Temperature range: -23°C to 49°C

8. Airscort FlytMini

Airscort FlytMini
Airscort FlytMini

The Airscort FlytMini is a battery-swapping drone docking station designed to store and protect drones in all weather conditions and has an operating temperature range of -10°C to 45°C. The docking station is built with a sturdy military grade with an insulated aluminum frame docking integrated with heating and cooling technology and is IP66 tested, indicating that it can withstand harsh weather conditions. Its advanced battery-swapping system quickly swaps the drone batteries and, as a bonus, houses four batteries at the same time.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Mavic 2 series
  • Weight: 83 kg 
  • Swap time: 3 min 
  • Temperature range: -10°C to 45°C

9. Aerobox

Aerobox Docking Sation
Aerobox Docking Sation

The Aerobox drone dock is most suitable for small and lightweight drones and can be used for several security and inspection applications. With an inbuilt smart power generator, the Aerobox is highly energy-efficient and easy to set up. It is also resistant to dust, light, and rain; as a result, it can function in numerous environments, within a temperature range of -25 °C to +60 °C (-13 °F to +140 °F).

Compatible with DJI Phantom, Mavic 2, Mavic Mini, and Mavic Air drones, this rugged docking station supports a contact-charging platform and smart air-cooling system for increased temperature control. It also contains a wide variety of sensors to relay critical information to the user. Further, several other communication options apart from 4G/5G are available as add-ons.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI Mavic 2 series
  • Temperature range: 25 °C to 60°C

10. Hive Droneport

Hive Droneport Docking Station

The HIVE docking station employs battery-swapping technology to minimize downtime (3 minutes). It is a very robust and reliable docking station that can cover an area of up to 100 km², making it ideal for a variety of environments and repetitive, 24/7 applications, such as construction sites, pipelines, mining, and utility inspections, with an area coverage of up to 100  km². Its battery-swapping module includes DJI's original charging station, which has a capacity of eight and can charge two drone batteries simultaneously.

Additional components of the HIVE include a meteorological station, omnidirectional WiFi antennas, and security cameras. It enables broad interoperability with a variety of payloads, add-ons, and third-party software integrations, including object detection, analytics powered by AI, and smart tracking apps.

Key features

  • Compatible drone: DJI M300
  • Weight: 1500 Kg
  • Swap time: 200s (2 batteries)
  • Weather resistant: IP45
  • Temperature range: -40°C to 40°C

Automation Software for Drone Docks

Docking stations with self-charging and internal climate-control systems help drone service providers with efficient fleet management and increased accessibility in a wide variety of environments. These state-of-the-art machines form the strong foundation for complete drone automation. Following are a few key features of the dock-integration software offered by the FlytBase team for a fully automated workflow between each of the docking stations featured above and the drone.

Cloud Connectivity

Cloud connectivity for drones by FlytNow
Cloud connectivity for drones by FlytBase

With autonomous docking stations connected to the cloud over 4G/5G/LTE networks using the FlytBase Edge kit, users can be rest assured that sending and receiving data would be seamless across the globe. This implies that both the users and the stations are constantly “in the know” of your drones’ flights and landings, and can keep track of their missions, telemetry data, and battery levels at all times. They will also be able to pre-plan failsafe actions that are automatically triggered during emergencies or incidents.

Precision Landing

Precision Landing of the drone
Precision Landing of the drone

Almost no modern software solution today is complete without leveraging advanced computer vision and AI modules. FlytBase leverages this powerful technology to land drones onto a docking station with centimeter-level accuracy. The module can be trained to land on both moving and stationary surfaces as it is built with highly accurate algorithms.

Mission Planner & Scheduler

schedule your drone missions for maximum operational efficiency

With this feature, you’ll be able to plan and schedule complex repeatable missions for your drones with a few clicks. These waypoint-based missions execute automatically at the set date and time after sending toaster messages a few minutes before take-off.

Payload & Third-Party Software Integration

Payload & Third-Party Software Integration

For payloads such as loudspeakers, thermal cameras, or spotlights, FlytBase offers a plethora of remote on-screen controls and visualization tools. Upon request, users can also integrate their own custom payloads with the software. Additionally, you can also connect various third-party software such as VMS, UTM, and ERP applications as per your requirements.

Advanced Video Management

Live multi-cam video feed of your drones enabling maximum efficiency

You can view the live video feed from each drone on the FlytBase dashboard without having to switch between views if you have a fleet of drones deployed on a mission. The docking station's video feed is also visible on the dashboard, and it, too, can be controlled remotely.

Custom No-Fly-Zones (NFZ)

Create your own custom No-Fly-Zones

You will be able to create or import no-fly-zones to prevent your drone from entering prohibited areas or from exiting a predefined area.

To learn more about how FlytBase can help you automate your drone operations or how you can get started with any of the above docking stations, schedule a demo with us!

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FAQs


1) What is a drone docking station?

Drone docking stations, also known as drone ports, enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to take off and land while also enabling the drone to be recharged. The core components of a docking station include a control panel to push flight routes and monitor flight progress.

Additionally, certain drone docking stations may have a landing pad, charging ports, equipment for maintenance, data transfer, or weather protection, etc.

2)  What is the use of an electronic weather station in a drone docking station?

This weather station is used to provide meteorological data to the drone while it is docked. This data can be used to help plan missions and make decisions while the aircraft is in flight. The station can provide information on wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity.

3) Which drone is compatible with DJI Dock?

DJI Dock houses a Matrice 30 where it lands, recharges, takes off, and executes missions programmed in FlytBase.

4) What are the key features of the DJI Dock?

The DJI Dock is packed with tons of advanced features, some of which are as follows:

  • Simple Setup: One DJI Dock weighs less than 105 kg and has a <1 square-meter footprint. Setup only requires ground fixation, access to power and the internet, and quick configuration via the DJI RC Plus remote controller.
  • Integrated Design: DJI Docks are packed with highly integrated hardware, improving functionality.
  • Modular Maintenance: The modular design of core components simplifies maintenance.
  • Non-stop Ops: The M30 Series Dock Version delivers flagship-level performance with a maximum wind resistance of 15 m/s 8 and an IP55 rating.
  • Wide Area Coverage: When fully charged, the M30 flies for 40 minutes 9 and can conduct missions and inspections up to 7 km.
  • Edge Computing 3: To further increase operational effectiveness, DJI Docks features edge computing expansion slots that allow for the pre-processing of media files and other tasks.

5) How to start and operate a drone program?

  • Research and understand the laws and regulations regarding the use of drones in your area.
  • Select the appropriate type of drone and necessary equipment for your intended use.
  • Train operators on the proper use and safety measures for operating drones.
  • Develop a plan for the specific tasks and objectives of the drone program.
  • Regularly maintain and update the drones and equipment to ensure safety and efficiency.

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Baisali Ghosh

As a Marcom Manager at FlytBase, Baisali oversees the content strategy, creation, and management! With over 7 years of experience in the drone industry and 3 years of it at FlytBase, she’s a self-proclaimed drone fanatic and is obsessed with all things geographical. In 2022, she has been recognized as the “Women to Watch in UAS” for AI/Autonomy category by Women and Drones.

When she’s not busy hosting FlytBase’s webinar series or organizing NestGen - a global drone autonomy focused event, you can find her exploring the Patagonian Desert, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, or the Yellowstone Caldera on Google Earth.

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