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