DJI announces autonomous features for Phantom 3

Phantom3Update 09-08-15: Some users have experienced problems during the update which renders the aircraft inoperable (AKA “bricked”).  DJI’s current turnaround time for repair is 9 weeks.

Firmware updates scheduled to be released on September 7th will add additional features to the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional. The most notable are “follow me”, point of interest (orbit), and waypoint (commonly referred to as “autopilot”).  Read more here.

My reaction: These are terrific features and will further aid new pilots in obtaining some spectacular shots. For example, the point of interest mode (orbit) took me hours of practice until I was able to master the technique. It required input from three axis to maintain the object in the center of the frame. If this feature works as advertised, new pilots will be able to achieve the same shot as an experienced pilot. Unfortunately, the new pilot may not master the skills required to track moving objects if they always rely on automated features.

When I was a kid I was not allowed to use a calculate in math class, presumably because I would fail to learn basic math skills and become reliant on a device for my calculations. While these features are incredible advancements, inexperienced pilots may become over reliant on automated features and fail to grow their skill set. The waypoint feature will encourage long flights without operator intervention. An unintended consequence may be a higher frequency of mishaps.

These features are great and I am happy to have them. I only suggest that new pilots continue to practice these skills manually. It will help you get better shots when the automated features aren’t a good fit and improved piloting skills will reduce the likelihood of a mishap in the future.



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