I have bought the Mavic Air for the company I work for as a Photographer as we wanted to get a simple video flying above several cars lined up inside a warehouse unit.
I have almost no experience with drones so took my time to read carefully the manual and watched many tutorials and then had the first flight in an open field in beginners mode.
All went well so I repeated it twice. Perfect !
I then took drone to the warehouse unit just for a quick test. No wind, fairly big space, no racking - what could possibly go wrong ? The minute I took off, the drone started drifting slowly. My first corrections seemed to have helped but I soon realised that the drone had it’s own plans. I started panicking and very quickly pulled the sticks in the wrong direction causing the drone to drift even further and faster away until it hit wall and dropped down from about 4 meters. How embarrassing !
The drone seemed ok except two damaged propellers.
The next few days I have spent reading all possible posts regarding indoor flying. Now I know that the drone lost the GPS signal and switched to ATTI or OPTI mode or perhaps took off that way already.
I then took the drone outside couple of times since and again everything went well.
I’m quite sceptic now about flying inside the unit ?
Does anyone have any advice ? Is it just a matter of getting more experience outdoors before going indoor with no GPS ? The car shoot is planned for mid May.
Back in the olden days of drone flying (in reality only about 10 yrs ago) the only way to fly on a budget was in Manual mode with basic gyro’s. Thanks to the mobile phone industry and the Nintendo WII the gyros and accelerometers started to gain more precision, in fact one of the earlier flight controllers were termed the MultiWii, and auto-levelling was possible. Today even the most basic toy quadcopter has a more advanced control system.
The problem with the Mavic Mini is the same as it’s predecessor, the Spark, in that it chooses what flight mode you fly in. Flying undercover will pose problems. First GPS signals will be very weak so it will try to use the optical flow system to hold its position. However if the lighting is poor the optical flow will not work correctly and it will revert to ATTI mode. As you’ve found out in this mode the MM will drift even with the slightest of air movement. Also it will continue to move after you have centred the sticks due to its own inertia and will require opposite stick input from yourself to arrest this movement.
On the subject of GPS. When flying my Spark undercover it has suddenly decided that it had GPS lock but because of multiple reflections, causing phase/timing issues, it has had a tendency to spas out. It’s for this reason I modded the mode switch so I can manually switch it to ATTI mode.
As per the other replies, it takes a bit of getting used to does flying manually…I would also add…check your settings for return to home, loss of signal, low battery and obstacle avoidance. There has been MANY caught out by having the RTH etc set at say ‘30 metres’ and flown indoors, if the signal is lost or battery gets low and RTH is initiated, the bird will raise to the height set, with a clatter on the roof of under trees, There’s been more than a few guys with suspicious looking propellor marks on their ceilings.
My first question is does the air have a downward facing camera to assist with stability like the Mavic 2 pro?
I have the M2P and fly this indoors a lot in a lot tighter spaces than warehouses utilising the downward facing camera as its main source of stability and as long as there is plenty of light, absolutely fine (well within reason), also only fly indoors with your prop guards on, that way if you do hit a wall it should just bounce off and keep it on tripod mode as this limits your speed.
Other than that its a matter of practise, knowing what your drone will do and more importantly what you can do with the drone, i still practise as much as i can but am flying in and out of peoples houses
as an aside I don’t know what the camera on the air is like but how does it handle the light in the warehouse? I’d be interested to know and see the footage
this is a link to a video (not final product) all shot on M2P
Your best bet is to engage TRIPOD mode which will slow the movements right down and is perfect for indoor flying. Start up the drone’s props, then tap the remote icon on your phone screen on the left of the display; this opens up the Intelligent Flight Modes and TRIPOD is on the right. This is your best mode inside.
You may also consider turning off the obstacle avoidance sensors as they may go off too often inside, but of course you’re far more likely to actually hit something inside.
My advice? Practice by your self; no pressure with no one watching and get used to how the controls work when the drone is not facing you. If the drone is facing you, the controls are reversed (left becomes right; fwds becomes back etc) and any other orientation will confuse things even more. You also run the risk of intermittent GPS which can cause unexpected movement as it re-locks onto a flaky GPS signal.
You’ve reminded me of the photo day we did at Chinnor & Princess Risborough Railway a couple of years ago. Given it snowed, blowed and was bitterly cold, it wasn’t the most successful of days, but after everybody else had sensibly gone home to thaw out I did fly in the new engine/maintenance shed - essentially also a big warehouse.
Although I knew what to expect, I was surprised at how much the MP drifted - after all, it’s a perfectly still environment - not only sideways but up and down as well.
It’s worse outside, when GPS vanishes (maybe taking off in a gorge is not very sensible), and by the time you realise what’s going on it’s drifted out of sight…
So I’d agree with everybody else, practice somewhere open and safe - if nothing else, it helps prevent that rising panic feeling when it happens unexpectedly…
Yes, makes sure it’s at hover in case of loss of signal, low battery etc. But don’t forget to reset to whatever you need when back flying outdoors. I have my RTH settings to fly home at 30m which should clear most obstacles (trees etc) on its way back autonomously, 30m is not a height you want it to ascend to indoors or under a, canopy of trees, under a bridge and so forth. Set it to tripod mode turn off the obstacle sensors or at least set it to hover if it encounters one and practice, practice.
Yes it does have a downward camera.
If I’m getting this right when no GPS signal it switches to ATTI or if close to the ground to OPTI mode.
With the OPTI it uses the cameras for positioning. But if the floor is “plain” with no contrast the drone is confused and starts drifting. I think that’s why I crashed last week.
After the crash I have immediately installed the prop guards.
Unfortunately it doesn’t let me open the video even though I’m signed in.
Practising on my own is good tip. I was actually considering that as the crash happened in front of my work colleague just 3 days after buying the drone.
Tripod mode seem like good option too.
Opti-mode, or visual positioning system, will work up to an altitude of around 30ft, as long as the lighting is suitable and there is adequate detail on the ground for the sensors to recognise. ATTI mode is the last resort mode when all positioning systems can no longer function correctly.
Since you’ll be flying in straight lines, just simply follow your drone keeping it within your visual comfort zone and with you out of camera shot.
It’s easy to then stay oriented with your drone, it’s also less likely for your drone to seemingly disappear in the background.
The important thing is the video that you can shoot with your current skills; If you try to replicate videos you’ve seen on YouTube you’ll trip up.
The key is being able to see the drones movement at close quarters to pilot it to where you want it.