02 January 2015

Autonomous flight at Westfield Annapolis Mall

I have no idea if there is such a thing as having trust in a quadcopter drone. But there is certainly some amount of nervousness in sending her off and hoping (praying?) that she comes back. My previous autonomous flights were in areas close to home and areas that I could get to on foot. Today's flight went a step (or two) further as I flew from the top of the parking garage at Westfield Annapolis Mall. Of course, this means flying above a busy parking lot filled with traffic. Here was my programmed flight path, starting at the red chevron and proceeding counter-clockwise:

As you can see from the screenshot, the route was designed to take my Phantom around the outskirts of the mall and then return home. The programmed altitude is 50m (above the starting point on the third floor of a parking garage); so roughly 200 feet AGL. I also programmed the Phantom to flight faster--twice as fast as my previous autonomous flights. As a result, this flight took barely five minutes. I also ran the video through GoPro Studio to remove some of the barrel distortion. Other than a few moments where the Phantom was out of sight and my heart skipped a beat, everything went exactly as planned. I could even see the quadcopter at its furthest point away. Here is the video:

The only time I used the remote controller was to land the Phantom once it had returned to hover at the starting point. All of the rest of the flight, from start up until then, was autonomous from my pre-programmed flight plan.
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