In order to answer the question on whether or not the DJI Mavic Pro is waterproof, I must first describe to you the events leading up to my Mavic being plunged into a small body of water at the base of a waterfall and the struggle that ensued while trying to retrieve said drone.
A bad day!
A day of unfortunate events had motivated me to take a walk through the Morialta Conservation Park. After a brief 1.5km walk to the base of one of the parks waterfalls, I decided to get some aerial footage with my drone.
The waterfall flows through a narrow gap in the cliff face, then down into a spherical-like cove that harbours a small body of water at its base. I was attempting to film this.
The was drone positioned directly above the pool of water, roughly in the centre of the cove. The positioning of the drone was correct; however, I was in the shot. This was not in line with the ‘all natural’ vibe I was going for, so I got up and moved about 10 metres out of frame.
While doing this I made the false assumption that the drone would hover in place like it had done so many times before. Only this time, for unknown reasons, the drone began to drift to the right. Between the time it took me to get up and move out of frame the drone drifted about 5 metres to the right and hit the cliff. It did not engage the automatic obstacle avoidance system, nor warn me that it was approaching an obstacle. Instead, choosing to have a spectacular collision with the cliff face and plummet 40m into the pool of water at the base of the waterfall.
Flickr: Rhiannon Jones
I jumped into the murky water and began to search for the drone in the location where I had seen it enter. The water wasn’t too deep, only about 2.5 metres, but it was incredibly murky – less than 20cm of visibility. I spent about 1 hour searching for the drone to little avail. After realising my actions were futile I made the difficult decision to return to my car, drive 1 hour to get back home, pick up an underwater torch and my scuba diving mask, and then return to the waterfall. It was a hard decision to make, but, by this point, any more searching felt futile.
I returned with my gear and some unwitting recruits to help me scour the bottom of the dark abyss. And, after a further hour of searching, the drone was recovered, weighing nearly twice as much as it had prior to entering the water.
In total, it spent nearly 4 hours under the water at a depth of about 2.5 metres. I cannot describe to you the sense of joy that comes from wading around in murky water for about 2 hours, gliding your hands over slimy rocks and finding just about every other object that would be expected to be found in such a pool of water only to finally feel a foreign object resembling a drone caress the tips of your fingers. I pushed off the bottom with such force, I just about cleared the top of the water. (Not really, but I was overwhelmed with joy!).
How to draw the water out of the drone?
There are several methods doing the rounds on YouTube on how to siphon water out of your drone. I used the simplest and most popular method that utilises the natural hydrophilic properties of rice.
All you need is:
- About 3kg of rice – enough to completely cover your drone and all affected components.
- Some sort of storage device – we used an ordinary grocery bag.
To dry your drone:
- Place about 1kg of the rice on the base of the bag.
- Remove the battery and propellers from the drone and place all components in the bag. (We did not take the drone apart any further than this because the rice supposedly draws the water out of the drone).
- Place the remainder of the rice on top of the drone, ensuring it is completely covered.
- Place the bag in a dry place and leave for about 3 days.
Hopefully, after this time has elapsed your drone will be flyable. Just ensure to turn it on without the propellers in – there may be damage to flight mechanism of the drone. But, with some luck, everything should be okay.
Is the DJI Mavic Pro waterproof?
Technically speaking, the DJI Mavic Pro is not waterproof. For something to be waterproof it must be submergible in water and remain ingress over the entire period. It may have been a bit of a stretch for even the hardiest of waterproof products to remain submerged for 3 hours without becoming waterlogged. Nonetheless, after this time ensued the Mavic was completely waterlogged.
So, no the DJI Mavic Pro is not waterproof. But, it could be called water-resistant.
Unlike many other technologies that enter the water unintentionally and are almost immediately rendered inoperable, such as my IPhone 6s that did not survive a brief dip in the ocean, the DJI Mavic was operable after the water had desiccated.
What to do if your drone is not revived?
There are 2.5 potential options at your disposal when realising your drone is ‘stuffed’.
Firstly, have you purchased product insurance? This option may only be available to a few of you. (Hence, the ‘.5’ options). If you have purchased product insurance, this will be your first point of call. Contact your insurance provider and find out if the damage attained by your drone is covered under insurance.
Speaking from personal experience, any insurance company is unlikely to cover damage to your drone. I have have taken out insurance on several products that have received damage or been lost and never once has my insurance covered it. If you read the small print, insurance generally covers nothing but faults. And since DJI covers all faults, whats the point of having insurance?
Secondly, you will want to find out if the retailer you purchased your drone from offers a warranty and/or retailer insurance. Not all companies do. But, some offer warranty or retailer insurance for small periods of time at no cost. Mine was 3 months. During this period, some damages are covered under the scheme. Others are not. (Mine was not – figures).
Thirdly, contact DJI. It may be a bit of a long shot. But, DJI do offer support for some damages attained by drones. After undergoing their ‘Analysis Program’ they will determine if the incident was a drone error or pilot error. All drone errors will be reimbursed. All pilot errors will not.