DJI Phantom can now perform autonomous flight
Thanks to an app update, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision and Vision+ are now able to follow pre-programmed flight paths
You could almost say that the DJI Phantom is to consumer drones what the GoPro Hero is to actioncams – not the first or the cheapest, but certainly among the best-known. One thing that the Phantom has lacked in comparison to some of its competitors, however, is the ability to fly on its own. Well, it's now able to do that too, thanks to the addition of the Ground Station feature to its existing camera app.
Ground Station started out not long ago as a stand-alone iPad app. The big news is that it's now also included as part of the free iOS/Android Vision app, which allows users of the Phantom 2 Vision and Vision+ to control and view real-time video from their quadcopter's camera via their smartphone.
Using the Ground Station feature in the latest version of that app, users can drag up to 16 pins onto a map of their current location, those pins indicating GPS waypoints for the copter to hit on its flight. It's also possible to set the altitude for each of those waypoints, along with the aircraft's rate of speed upon reaching them.
Once everything is programmed in, hitting the onscreen "Go" button causes the Phantom to launch on its own and autonomously carry out its mission. The app will notify users if the drone's battery level drops to the point that the flight can't be completed. If that happens, it's possible to send the copter back to its take-off point by hitting the "Return to home" button, plus users can also regain manual control at any time.
Flights set up using Ground Station can be up to 3.1 miles (5 km) in length, with a maximum altitude of 656 feet (200 m) and a maximum distance of 1,640 feet (500 m) from the controller.
The new version of the DJI Vision app is available via the App Store or Google Play, and requires users to download the latest flight control firmware to their Phantom 2 Vision or Vision+. Its Ground Station functionality is demonstrated in the video below.
Source: DJI Innovations
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
"You could almost say that the DJI Phantom is to consumer drones what the GoPro Hero is to actioncams – not the first or the cheapest, but certainly among the best-known."
Ben, since you mentioned price, you couldn't include in your article what the DJI Phantom DOES go for?
Pricing information for the DJI Phantom is provided in the previous stories linked to in the story - Ed.
Good job for DJI. Autonomous flying via way points is inevitable for the phantom just as 4K is inevitable for the GoPro Hero.
One thing is not clear to me for this new app is if you still need the 2.4GHz Bluetooth data link like you would need for the ipad version.
Nice feature but thanks to our government it's now illegal to fly it autonomously in the USA.
Too bad the big gubment FAA / congress has STUPIDLY made this kind of activity ILLEGAL! You're not allowed to use a multi-rotor for autonomous flight. Another example of the stupid big government making dumb broad sweeping laws that will reduce our ability recover from this down oBOZO economy and dig ourselves out of our unnecessary national debt(which is basically just subsidizing anti American social programs like obamacare).
We will continue to see new ways for this technology to be used. But until the government gets it head out of it's arse and realizes that it's OK to use a multirotor for commercial use we will only be crippling ourselves and hindering economic growth.
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