Review: Autel EVO Lite+ is Owning the Night
by Paul Rossi, DRONELIFE Contributor and Chief Operations Officer and Chief Pilot at Nine Ten Drones.
All prices are estimates as of time of publication and subject to change.
2022 is the year of pushing the chip shortage to the edge by developing smaller UAS that are more reliant on multiple microprocessors and chips to enable their advanced autonomous functions that enable data collection at scale.
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Autel Robotics has remained in step with the competition by introducing the EVO Lite+ and the EVO Nano+, two drones boasting capabilities consistent with what the industry is demanding. Both platforms have taken what’s great from the EVO II and packed them into smaller aircraft that are useful to commercial and recreational pilots.
Autel Robotics has further developed their proven UAS technology producing a drone smaller in size with a visual payload that is enabling commercial users across the globe to capture data, phot and video. Commercially capable drones are getting smaller by the year similar to cell phone and security technology we are all familiar with. Think about it a decade ago most folks had a regular doorbell, now it is 2022 and most of us have access to camera technology that allows us to talk to delivery drivers, neighbors or anyone else that shows up at our door thanks to cheap camera tech and downsized electronic “chips”.
In this review I will be unpacking the EVO Lite+ in order to help you better understand how the aircraft will perform in a variety of environments as well as diving into the pros and cons that you should be aware of if you are thinking about buying your first drone or adding the aircraft to your existing fleet. I have personally flown the EVO Lite+ for an extended period both commercially and for recreation and will be using that experience to write this review.
“No Fly Zones”
To kick things off I do want to address that Autel Robotics has integrated “No-Fly Zones” into the aircraft flight logic. Up until this year a huge selling point for Autel drones has been the lack of geographically based flight restrictions that require users to request unlocking to fly in approved areas within the National Airspace System (NAS). This is both a pro and con as it increases safety and situational awareness as we continue to push coexist between crewed and uncrewed aircraft in the NAS, the pro, while also requiring trusted operators to perform an additional steps to execute a flight mission, the con.
You can think of the EVO Lite+ as a compact EVO II Pro that maintains all the exceptional features and high quality camera specifications required for producing commercially usable content and data. One of the main disadvantages of the EVO II Pro, when compared to similar UAS models available, was its larger footprint and size when folded for storage and with motors fully extended for flight. This larger size required bigger cases and more clearance which has led to the development and introduction go the EVO Lite+.
The EVO Lite+ boasts obstacle sensors on the front, bottom and rear of the drone providing enhanced situational awareness to the pilot while flying. A lack of side sensors does leave the ship exposed to potential flight into terrain whenever strafing left or right.
Opening the Lite+ Premium combo carrying case you immediately recognize the downsize version of its predecessor and how neatly everything is packed in. My one complaint in regards to the carrying case is how difficult it can be to remove the drone from the case due to the propeller Tips on the front motors catching on the case itself. This minor difficulty can be corrected by applying a rubber band or other securing strap around the propellers in order to keep them snug and flush with the drone’s body.
Autel has branched out with the introduction of their newest drones and is offering the EVO Lite+ in three colors to include Autel Orange, White and Grey. Batteries are sold in the three different color options with all colors being cross compatible with any EVO Lite drone.
EVO Lite+ Battery
Autel Robotics has found ways to reduce the overall size and weight of the EVO II airframe while still outfitting the craft with a professional camera boasting capabilities that is meeting the industry standards. Reducing the weight and improving design has allowed the engineering team at Autel Robotics to pull more flight time without having to increase battery capacity or size. This is very similar to automobile manufacturers finding ways to decrease weight and improve aerodynamics in order to increase miles per gallon.
After multiple test flights at the Nine Ten Drones training facility in Fayetteville, NC we have averaged a max flight time of just under 39 minutes flying and roughly 35 minutes hovering in no wind conditions. In each of our test flights we flew the EVO Lite+ battery down to 5% or less which we do not recommend anyone do on a regular basis. Charging time of a single battery using standard home wall outlet power supply is consistently around 80 minutes.
Additional batteries for the EVO Lite+ will cost $65.
EVO Lite+ Remote
The EVO Lite+ remote is ergonomic and reminds me very much of a Sony Playstation remote controller based on its size and shaping. We have seen a huge shift in enterprise remote controllers integrating built in screens for speed and efficiency, however we still see many recreational/hobbyists drone pilots preferring to use a remote controller that requires the integration of the cell phone.
Using the cell phone has the brain behind the remote makes it very easy to export photos and videos from the drone directly to a users phone for editing and posting. With the new wave of cellular technology everyone is now carrying around their own personal photo editor/video maker who can easily post “professional” content to a business or “personal” social media account that in turn generates revenue through ad space or product/service sales.
Back to the remote, not having a built in screen option hurts its enterprise value but still makes this a very usable recreational/professional drone. One down side to the remote with cell phone is the very poor balance or center of gravity. In your hands it is very top heavy and when set down on a surface the remote will “fall backward” leaning predominantly on the data cable that connects the remote to the cellular device.
Battery life of the remote controller is just over 2 hours, roughly 140 mins, when a mobile device is connected, providing plenty of time to capture your favorite vacation spot or knock out a real estate project.
During flight testing, at 400 feet above ground level, we were able to fly the Autel EVO Lite+ roughly three-quarters of a mile, about 3900 feet, from our location before having issues with image transmission. Flights were all performed in suburban areas, golf courses and sports fields.
EVO Lite+ Camera Specifications
- 1/1.3” CMOS image sensor
- Effective Pixels: 48MP
- Fixed aperture: f/1.7
- 3x lossless zoom (inspections)
- 4K HDR video @ 30FPS
- 4k @ 60FPS
- 1080p @ 120FPS
- True Vertical Shooting
- Gimbal Tilt: -135* to 80*
- D-Cinelike Color mode
Flying the EVO Lite+
Flying the EVO Lite+ is fun, convenient and captivating. The 2.7k video transmission provides a clean, crisp visual display when using the appropriate cellular device. The EVO Lite+ is as responsive as its predecessor, the EVO II Pro, and handles very well when flying in manual mode.
The EVO Lite+ provides pilots with a list of Capture/Flight modes that will support with video capture and other recreational/commercial projects you may get involved with. Each flight mode deserves its own review and unfortunate we won’t have time to dive into them individually at this time.
The Capture/Flight modes available for the EVO Lite+ are:
- Dynamic Track 2.1
- fade away
- Vertical camera
The EVO Lite+ is equipped with a 1/1.3” CMOS image sensor that is capable of reaching an ISO up to 48,000 when configured in Autel’s proprietary “Night Mode”. In addition to reaching ISO ranges above 6,400 the EVO Lite+ also has an adjustable aperture which further supports quality image capturing in low light conditions.
EVO Lite+ Pricing Breakdown (at time of publication)
EVO Lite+ – $909.00
- EVO Lite+ Aircraft
- remote controllers
- Intelligent Flight Battery
- battery charger
- Spare Propeller Pair
- Charging/device cables
EVO Lite+ Premium Bundle – $189.00
- EVO Lite+ Aircraft
- remote controllers
- Intelligent Flight Battery x3
- charging hub
- Spare Propeller Pair x2
- shoulder bag
- USB 3.0 Type-C Data Cable
EVO Lite+ Intelligent Flight Battery – $65.00
EVO Lite+ ND Filter Set (16/64256) – $55.00
EVO Lite+ Summary
You must check out and consider the EVO Lite+ if you are a recreational or professional pilot looking for a drone that has extended flight time and great low light performance that comes with stellar support. Autel Robotics is pushing the drone industry forward with each new product it introduces and the EVO Lite+ is no exception. For anyone involved with drones the EVO Lite+ is worth a look and consideration when determining which drone you should be adding to your fleet.
Read more about Autel drones:
Paul Rossi is the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Pilot at Nine Ten Drones, an NC-based drone services company, training center, and reseller. Rossi is also the Outreach Coordinator for the North Carolina Chapter of AUVSI. A graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the US Army Aviation Logistics School, Rossi is passionate about the aviation industry. He holds both a private pilot’s license for manned aircraft and a Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate. You can see more videos and product information on the Nine Ten Drones YouTube channel.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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