GPS flight planning & Waypoint based AutoPilot for FreeFly ALTA

Discussion in 'ALTA' started by Antoine Hanekom, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. Antoine Hanekom

    Antoine Hanekom New Member

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    Hi All,

    We currently use a custom built "heavy lift' Kraken Octo with DJI flight controls and DJI ground station GPS flight planning & AutoPilot controls to execute pre-programmed waypoint based flight plans.

    http://www.dji.com/product/ipad-ground-station?www=v1

    I've searched the FreeFly Systems forums and can't see any reference to the same interface for the ALTA.

    If this is available, can someone please send me a link.

    Cheers
     
  2. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Antoine: Such an interface is not available for the ALTA. Sorry.

    Andy.
     
  3. Antoine Hanekom

    Antoine Hanekom New Member

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    Andy,
    Thats a real shame.:(
    Without this ability Freely / Alta will rapidly loose market share to the DJI Inspire & 3DR Solo.
    Particularly if one consider out of the box ability and price point of the Alta/M15 compared to a DJI Inspire / Zenmuse X5
    There are many real world applications with the need to track a point of interest, follow a pre-determined path or re-position the aerial platform in the exact point in space time-after-time.
    Antoine
     
  4. Mateusz Hajdziony

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    Agree with you Antoine. While someone might argue that waypoint flight is not needed in cinematography, it is crucial in more industrial areas of multirotor use, such as mapping, S&R and inspections. ALTA looks like a really good machine - it is lightweight, efficient, folds to a really small case and can top-mount a camera gimbal - especially useful feature during bridge inspections. It would make for a great all around machine because it can cover most uses, if it wasn't for the lack of waypoint flight and general expandability (for example no way to make the Synapse trigger photo in the camera, no way to get current GPS position in-flight by other onboard equipment). The industries that I've mentioned are growing really fast and will have a really big marketshare in the near future.

    What FLIR camera are you using? Can I see your setup?
     
  5. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Bearing in mind I'm only a volunteer and therefore don't intend (and cannot) speak for Freefly, based on published surveys I've seen the aerial photography/videography market seems to be the largest single market segment..

    One example that suggests this is http://droneanalyst.com/2014/06/05/drones-for-film-and-farm-which-is-the-bigger-market-part-1/.
    Caution: the survey on which this is based is of unknown size, therefore the margin of error is unknown so there is a chance that this might be subject to what is called in Argumentation, Errors of Sample. Also, as it's a survey of people who chose to respond, who knows whether it's a statistically valid survey? It's just a survey of self-selected responders.

    But, assume for a moment that it's more or less correct (sorry about the mangled formatting) it states:

    Primary Service or ProductResponse Percent
    Aerial Photography / Video & Cinematography / Movie /TV41%
    Sales of sUAS aircraft and/or technology11%
    Agriculture / Farming Services8%
    Mapping / Topography / Geospacial / Photogrammetry5%
    Education and Training5%
    Consulting4%
    Data Aggregation or Analytic Services3%
    First Responder Service (Police, Fire, or Medical)3%
    Utilities2%
    Scientific Research2%
    Construction2%
    All Others13%

    As far as I can tell, FF is in the Aerial Photo/Video/Movie/TV market -- that's based on my understanding of who the forum users are, the payloads they fly, and the questions they raise on the forum, the technology of the MōVI, and the general price-point for the FF equipment.

    Thus if my inferences are correct, and I only speculate that they are, then what would seem to follow from that are such things as:
    1. FF is not really competing with DJI (at least not yet -- DJI's offerings in terms of payload cameras, lenses, etc. are not in FF's market -- yet!)
    2. There is doubt in my mind of the utility of waypoint flying for the Aerial Photo/Video/Movie/TV market -- that's where forum members who operate in this market need to comment. Do actors, directors, directors of photography, really expect highly repetitive flight paths for specific takes? Can one predict the required flight path ahead of time?
    3. As Antoine says, "There are many real world applications with the need to track a point of interest, follow a pre-determined path or re-position the aerial platform in the exact point in space time-after-time" -- but my question is, while this is true, see the implied question I raise in the item 2. above: is the Aerial Photo/Video/Movie/TV market one of those "real world applications?"
    Put another way, if I happen to be correct in terms of FF's targeted market, would forum members in that market prefer that FF direct its energies to providing features that are more in demand in other markets?

    Of course, if I'm wrong (and forum members know that I am often wrong but rarely uncertain :rolleyes:), then Antoine is more likely to be correct and FF should take heed! :)


    Andy.
     
  6. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    Andy,

    From our experience you are correct. We are heavy into both aerial cinema and industrial applications. Waypoints for filmwork is not all that useful. Most closed set filming requires heavy focus on collision avoidance flying near buildings, cars, wires, trees, talent, etc. I wouldn't trust waypoints in this setting. A good pilot can reproduce flight paths plenty well enough. If the pilot can't they shouldn't be doing closed set work yet anyway IMO.

    We may incorporate our Altas into our industrial business. The payload capacity and skyview feature have some advantages for inspection work for example. Waypoints don't help here either. A local GPS network and/or automated collision avoidance are more important. For mapping we use our Inspires as they make way more sense overall - smaller, lower cost, less battery, waypoints, etc.

    So many drone applications are horribly overblown at the moment like bridge inspections. These types of inspections are of little value unless you can scrape off the rust with a tool and see the true structural condition up close. No DOT would risk lives based only on drone inspection results. Same for stockpile mapping. Existing methods are more accurate and repeatable. Once again when millions of dollars are at stake, no large company will trust drone mapping results at the moment. The aerial portion of stockpile mapping is the cheapest part. Things like drilling density core samples are many times more.

    In this business I think it is far better to be great at a few things than mediocre at many.
     
    Chris Harrison and Steve Maller like this.
  7. Antoine Hanekom

    Antoine Hanekom New Member

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    HI Guys, Thanks for the feedback.

    Mateusz,
    We use proprietary (Military Spec) equipment to perform asset integrity inspections on major hazard facility sites onshore and offshore.
    Assets include Oil & gas platforms, Petroleum Refineries, Petrochemical production facilities, etc.. We have been doing this using hand held equipment for quite a while. We have worked with our clients and spent a lot of time and money developing and integrating RPAS versions of the same technologies. As you might appreciate we are thus reluctant to share too much detail. However, refer our website for a general capability summary. http://www.atmeco.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=112

    Andy, James,
    I get your point re FreeFly's target market. Thats why we also have a conprehensive range of RPAS platforms based on the payload deployed and required flight profile.
    The investment and ongoing R&D required to operate at our level is not insignificant. Standardising on one platform / software architecture / OEM support team to sustain a fleet of RPAS platforms would free up cash & time for focussed service development.

    Based our experience to date, we believe the FreeFly ALTA's to be the better RPAS platform for our payloads and flight profiles.
    In our game (like the high end cinematography game) factors like reliability, redundancy, robustness, transportability and OEM engineering is paramount when carrying payloads that cost 4 times the Platform and Gimbal assembly combined.

    The interesting thing about market statistics is that for insurance purposes our services & equipment is classed into "Aerial Photography / Video & Cinematography / Movie /TV41%"

    We look froward to a "formal" response from FreeFly.
     
  8. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Antoine: You make excellent points -- your market is a highly specialized one, as you say and I could see how autonomous flights would aid the work you do with the RPAs.

    Out of curiosity, does CASA allow autonomous waypoint flights for commercial purposes?

    In the USA, the FAA tends to go decidedly iffy and act like a wally when you say "autonomous" -- I suspect they think it's a four letter word. :)

    Andy.
     
  9. Stefan Jannides

    Stefan Jannides New Member

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    Waypoints may not be that useful for filming work but for stills they definitely are. A lot of the aerial stills work I do requires a high level of position/height accuracy to match exact views from a point on architectural plans. We set waypoints to pinpoint the exact spot and altitude as it's not always easy to identify from the ground operating position and is a lot more efficient in terms of time. Yes you can point the camera down to locate your position but it's extra unnecessary time. Andy, as you mentioned FF's market includes high-end stills - as a specialist aerial/architectural stills photographer I am 100% in the FF target market but the Synapse without waypoints currently doesn't meet my requirements unfortunately ... I'd happily update my Cinestar if it did.
     

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