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sdk autonomous flight altitude limitations
1441 13 2015-11-1
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mike.wildlight
Second Officer
Flight distance : 5623 ft
Australia
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Hi DJI folk,

There has been some discussion on the 500m limitation, and on this my only comments are that:
*it is unusual for a manufacturer to limit their product based on laws of a single country where their products are sold. Can't recall the last time I saw a car manufacturer speed limiting a car because the speed limit in their principal market was xxx.
*most of my flying is well within this limitation but I can foresee a time when I will wish the limitation wasn't there (especially when it can be legally and safely done!)

My principal concern is the 122m (400') limitation in the sdk for autonomous flight for third party app providers. I've been having a bit of fun with 3D mapping with mine and perhaps one day may investigate doing that commercially. It is severely limiting for many commercial applications and has the potential to seriously compromise safety in steep terrain. I really like DJI products but if I ever were to start doing this fun stuff commercially, I'd almost be forced into an alternative product that I'd rather not be using.

I'd be pretty happy if it was even opened up to the just to the 500m ceiling, that would be a huge advance!


So Tahoe_Ed and other fine DJI folk, I understand you don't set policy and such, so what is the best way for us consumers to communicate to DJI the desire to be able to legally use our "professional" aircraft to the full extent possible under our governing laws? Thus hopefully the powers that be change or amend the policy to maintain a competitive edge for DJI.

Cheers
Mike
2015-11-1
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Geebax
Captain
Australia
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I think DJI is trying to accommodate rules for safe flying at present and I appreciate it is a huge task. The ideal situation would be to have several versions of the firmware allocated to different countries so the NFZs and other local regulations can be tailored to that country. But in order to do this, it places a big burden on the software developers to come up with a regime to maintain all those different versions.

Having the NFZs for the entire world in one firmware edition is not efficient, but I would think it is a logical progression to develop country specific firmware editions.
2015-11-1
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duey101
lvl.3

Thailand
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Geebax Posted at 2015-11-2 05:23
I think DJI is trying to accommodate rules for safe flying at present and I appreciate it is a huge  ...

Again, the point is pilot control. A limit of any sort offers no safety advantages, period. You can slam a P3P into anything at 500 meters or 5 meters. The limit is a directive given to DJI by the U.S. Government if they want to sell the product in the USA which is the main market. It won't be lifted and any future SDK apps will be dumbed down by the FW limit.  The only hope is for a hacked firmware similar to what Magic Lantern did for Canon DSLR users. If you don't know what Magic Lantern is, Google it and see just how much Canon is (excuse me... was) holding back from consumers including the ability to shoot 14 bit RAW video. ML unleashed the beast!
2015-11-1
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Geebax
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Australia
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duey101 Posted at 2015-11-2 13:53
Again, the point is pilot control. A limit of any sort offers no safety advantages, period. You ca ...

Yeah, I know all about Magic Lantern. The trouble is, everyone thinks the same capability now exists for anything that employs soft/firm ware. I have no problem with built in limits, but I would like them to be correct for specific regions, not what is determined for the USA.

As for hacked systems, your Canon is not going to fall out of your hands if the firmware is not right, but a Phantom falling out of the sky... There have been calls to apply the Magic Lantern principle to many other devices, but few have ever come to reality because few people understand the complexity of the issues.
2015-11-1
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duey101
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Thailand
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Geebax Posted at 2015-11-2 10:06
Yeah, I know all about Magic Lantern. The trouble is, everyone thinks the same capability now exis ...

Yes, I agree with you completely but in this particular case this will be the only way it will ever happen. Or until a rival product equal to or better without the limits comes on market. Those are the only two possibilities.
2015-11-1
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Geebax
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Australia
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duey101 Posted at 2015-11-2 17:29
Yes, I agree with you completely but in this particular case this will be the only way it will eve ...

Yeah, but it is like those who come on here and demand that DJI remove the limitations otherwise they will go out and buy another competitors product. There are two things wrong with that, first, the DJI product, as far as I am concerned, is far and away the best one around, so it is an empty promise.

The second point is, if as people suggest, DJI have been told to put these limitations in their product or else in won't go on sale in the US (which I don't believe by the way), why would they not make the same demands of all the competitors?

Sure, you can roll your own drone, and that would solve most of the problems, but few people are up to that. The truth is, most will roll over and take what they are given. Sadly, I see it as a pointless discussion.
2015-11-1
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duey101
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Thailand
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Geebax Posted at 2015-11-2 14:30
Yeah, but it is like those who come on here and demand that DJI remove the limitations otherwise t ...

I agree Geebax, what is the point?  We got what we get, end of story.  Work with what is there and hope for the best is all you can do.  In my opinion nothing is near the P3P nor will anything be able to match it for some time.  It is a great platform, unfortunately with some great possibilities crippled, but it is what it is.
2015-11-2
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mike.wildlight
Second Officer
Flight distance : 5623 ft
Australia
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duey101 Posted at 2015-11-2 23:10
I agree Geebax, what is the point?  We got what we get, end of story.  Work with what is there and ...

I'm more optimistic than you guys.

Hence my post. The goal of every good marketing department is to incorporate features that paying customers want (within appropriate laws) BEFORE it costs market share. Hence why I asked the question of DJI what is the best way to communicate to them what we would like.

No government representatives would be "telling" DJI they "must" do anything other than comply with the law. To do otherwise invites a lawsuit itself. DJI may well be pre-empting regulations not yet in play and trying to head them off. Whilst ever there are any manufacturers building systems that don't have these limitations (inc DJI Wookong, A2), civil aviation authorities will regulate as they see fit to make skies safe, irrespective of what any individual manufacturer does

So I go on living in hope (delusionally?) that DJI will delimit my drone to it's legal capability.


2015-11-2
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duey101
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Thailand
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mike.wildlight Posted at 2015-11-3 10:31
I'm more optimistic than you guys.

Hence my post. The goal of every good marketing department is  ...

Yes, it is a delusion, one I share but sadly understand will not happen.
2015-11-2
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WorldPeace
lvl.1

United States
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(Sorry in advance for the length of this post)

I have to agree with the rationale and reasoning of Geebax and Mike.WildLight and others who have a clear understanding of this topic.

And, I know it can be accomplished without the alleged management of multiple instances of country- or region-specific firmware. I won't go into detail, but secure policy management is not rocket science. Single binary is a reality.

Hacking - like the Canon example - is now next to impossible with the recent update to the RC/firmware security. Trust me on this.

Anyway, the lunacy of the height limits has already been stated over and over. I am of that opion as well. Strongly so. I also do not believe that the US government has set any such requirement upon DJI for DJI to be able to sell itno U.S. markets. It is arbitrary. To me, I find it (the limit) kinda humerous and not so forthright that it somehow gives someone somewhere the warm fuzzy that airspace above a Phantom 3 (and Inspire and others) is now safe. Pfft!

Simplified example:

I have a need for routine agricultural reconnaissance - monitoring animals, feed, water, fences, etc. Today, it requires nearly a half day of driving, saddling up and riding. Preferable is that I could create a waypoint mission for a Phantom 3 aircraft to fly up and over a peak a mile away, dropping into the ranch, spending a few minutes recording stuff and then returning home, 12 to 15 minutes max. At no point does the aircraft EVER need to be more than 50m above the ground directly below it. Yes, that's 50m, not 500m. And, in the rare case where Forest Service or Fish and Game may be flying, the likelihood they would ever drop to within even 100m above the ground is next to nil. The mission is within all limits - oh, except that the peak is higher than the 500m "relative to home point" limit. So, its a "no go"


Solution:

Let the drone pilots determine what they need.
Firmware can set pseudo limits, like 500m for example. (same as today but not the same implementation)
Pilot configures app for even more restrictive limits than are set in the firmware. This would just be something that an app might provide as an optional safety net. Not enforced by the firmware. Fine. Pilot optionally limiting himself. (App could also have other optional limits)
Pilot defines waypoints for missions...
  1) App checks if wp is within bounds set by the pilot. Yes = no action; No = warning and Pilot approves or changes wp
  2) App checks if wp is within bounds that would otherwise be enforced by the firmware. Yes = no action; No = perform waypoint validation

Waypoint Validation, simply stated, is verifying that 1) the altitude of the waypoint is greater than the approximate altitude of the ground directly below the wp by some reasonable amount AND 2) that the difference between the altitude of the waypoint and the approximate altitude of the ground directly below the wp is less than the limit imposed by the firmware - in which case 500m is perfectly acceptable.

Waypoint Validation could be done a couple different ways. But, it needs to be secure, and it should be quick (<1sec?). Ideally, the app would perform this step without having to have a connection (to a backend server or whatever). The SDK would need to have access to secure (signed) map datum, ideally included with the SDK or caching of it on the device managed by the SDK. Validation by a connected backend would allow for much more granular map datum, yielding greatest accuracy and flight safety. But that would require creating/editing missions somewhere you can get a "connection" to the web.

Waypoint Validation for those waypoints or missions requiring validation would produce a "key" or "signature" that would be part of the waypoint mission, validated by the drone as the mission is uploaded. Editing a waypoint would require a new approval.

Existing missions would still be supported - same as they are today. Updated Firmware/SDK/Apps would be required for this practical "extension."

Its software. It can be done - and done right.

And, it should be.

The limit is just too unrealistic and doesn't solve any real problems. Let's hope that it was just a "stopgap" measure to appease somebody somewhere. (Sad day when attorneys drive product requirements or more worrisome product implementation)

Keep pushing DJI to do the right thing!
2015-11-3
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Geebax
Captain
Australia
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WorldPeace Posted at 2015-11-4 09:07
(Sorry in advance for the length of this post)

I have to agree with the rationale and reasoning of  ...

I don't disagree with anything you have said, but here in Australia the rules for ultra-light aircraft and drones are the same at this point in time, so you have to be responsible enough to accommodate yourself in the same space in the sky. There is a guy in a nearby town who regularly flies his powerchute over our property (I live in the countryside) and he has no idea I am here, so I need to make sure I don't get in his way.

'Let the drone pilots determine what they need'. Yeah, well they don't let commercial pilots make their own rules, why should we be any different. The skies have to be regulated, and I for one am glad they are.

As for the firmware issue, we do not know what the allowable firmware size is, code space is finite. I would rather have improvements or features in there than an exhaustive list of US airports, sports stadiums, government facilities, air bases, naval bases... They are no interest to me and the code is wasted. And if a country specific section sets up different limits for different countries, why not?
2015-11-3
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duey101
lvl.3

Thailand
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WorldPeace Posted at 2015-11-4 05:07
(Sorry in advance for the length of this post)

I have to agree with the rationale and reasoning of  ...

If you don't think the US Government is telling DJI what to do, then read this...

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/white-house-drone/
2015-11-6
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WorldPeace
lvl.1

United States
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duey101 Posted at 2015-11-6 21:38
If you don't think the US Government is telling DJI what to do, then read this...

http://www.wire ...

Read it. You probably meant to include a different link, as this one didn't say a thing about the US Gov't dictating anything to DJI or others.

Still, an interesting re-read from 9+ months ago. I am not driven by paranoia or conspiracy, fwiw.
2015-11-6
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duey101
lvl.3

Thailand
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WorldPeace Posted at 2015-11-7 06:32
Read it. You probably meant to include a different link, as this one didn't say a thing about the U ...

Yes, that was the wrong link... Now I can't find the one I found before!!! LOL!
2015-11-7
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