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Got in panic with police and lost Mavic. Critical battery vs RTH?

iamvolitant

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Writing one of those posts I hoped I’d always read and never need to write myself...

Driving home on the freeway, saw a really beautiful sunset in a particularly scenic place that ‘needed’ to be filmed. Pulled over on the side of the road and flew the Mavic around for a full battery worth of flying.

First low battery warning came on, and Auto RTH too, so I promptly cancel RTH (so it doesn’t unneccessarily climb to 300 ft) and instead I flew back to where my car was pulled off into the grass. Once it was directly over my head (also the home location) I started bringing it down when suddenly I saw police lights behind me.

I froze. Set the remote down, and walked back to the police car with nothing in my hand. I told the officer I didn’t need any help, my car was ok, and he quickly barked back that it was illegal to pull off to the side of the road where I was. I said ok, I’ll move, never mentioned the drone.

Went back to the car and didn’t know what to do, drone was still hovering out of sight, about 100 ft up directly above me. I quickly realized the officer wasn’t going anywhere until I left, so plan A of “just wait it out” was out of the question. Plan B was “just land anyway” but in my panicked state i thought that If he was already mad at me for just being pulled over in the grass, didn’t want to see what he’d do when I landed a drone right in front of him on the side of the road. So I just started driving.

I took the remote off the passenger seat and flew the Mavic up the road as well, trailing a bit behind my car. Remember it’s been beeeping at me this whole time, and starts going into critical low battery mode. Making me panic more, and begins to descend itself.

Cop is gone now (drove past me) so I steer it to the next freeway exit as I drive there myself, and it starts going down in a pretty ideal spot, behind some old railroad tracks on a flat gravel patch far from any people or vehicles just a few blocks from the freeway exit. As it goes down i hit video record just in case. a few warnings come up I don’t remember exactly since I’m trying to drive and fly at the same time. Finally I see the drone go over some knee high weeds and it tells me autoland is unsuitable or something, and I can swipe to land anyway. I see just 15 feet forward is clear gravel, so I push to stretch it a little further and cancel the autoland. I get over the gravel and it tries to land again. I keep bringing it lower, directly over the flat gravel patch, having cleared another autoland warning by now, and suddenly I lose signal.

In a panic I keep driving to the spot where I saw it go down in the video display, which matches the last gps location recorded in find my drone. It’s getting dark of course (was filming a sunset) and I arrive at the site about 5 minutes after losing signal.

I go to the site and the Mavic is nowhere to be seen, gps location is in the middle of a 40 ft radius clear area , so it shouldn’t be hard to find, but it’s not there. I widen the radius and look in all the knee high weeds in the surrounding 70 ft or so, before it gets really dark and I have to head home.

Sorry for the long winded back story, I plan to go back and look in the morning, but wanted to know if anyone can help me refine my search strategy since I haven’t found a definitive answer on RTH vs Critical battery, or have any idea of what to try next (besides wait for sunlight and keep looking):
when I cancel an autoland once or twice and i’m hovering 15 or so ft from the ground when I lose signal, is there any chance of that the Mavic could start drifting or even enabling RTH and going back to where I was with the cop? It seems like RTH would already be overridden By this point. And if it did activate, I probably would’ve picked up signal again as it climbed up to my RTH altitude of 300ft...

I’m wondering if I should trace the 1200 or so ft space between my intended landing site and the home site, or just widen the radius around my intended landing site.

Just seems so improbable that it would be far from its last recorded location, since I gave no stick inputs after positioning it over the gravel patch, and the GPs shows it right where I wanted it, so I’m a little stumped. Also very improbable that in such a remote place, that someone would’ve gone and taken it in the 5 min it took me to arrive , but that’s starting to feel like the most believable outcome at this point.

In any case, appreciate any knowledge or advice any of you have at this point. And if it helps at all, aircraft was latest firmware, MPP, sport mode, RTH setting enabled @ 300ft, and relatively little/no wind.

Thanks in advance
 

Irish-apple

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good story number one flying on the / to the side of the road passing car spots drone he looks up to say Hey look a drone you dont often see them .. he loses control while driving goes off road could be killed along with passengers as he was looking at YOUR drone flying . and we picture then the cops didnt show up .. you never knew about the crash or even heard about it and that family wiped out due to your stupid good sunset shots. sorry for being blunt but this is the kind of stuff people who fly sensible get into issues with people as the people think we are all the same were NOT ..

good luck finding drone if you do think a little better next time
 
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AMRE2ME2

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I would bet your drone initiated another RTH and started a climb and then headed in that direction. I would walk a straight line between its last known location and it's home point.
In the future, when you find a suitable landing spot, hit the other landing button on remote, not the RTH landing button. This will land the Drone where it is and not initiate another RTH.
A lot of drones are lost because they initiate a RTH when we don't want them to after loosing signal and they try to RTH but run out of battery on the way back.
 
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macoman

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You made a big mistake by forgetting the drone and walked away to the cop. First thing you should had done was to take care the drone first, a cop can wait a few seconds. He is not going to give you a ticket because you are flying. This is an expensive machine. If this was a $50 dollars drone, I understand but when you expent around $1000 for the mavic, this is serious business here. This is completely drone pilot fault. Don't expect DJI to provide you support for your lost.
 

rfc

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You violated the “Airman’s Creed”:

Aviator
Navigate
Communicate...
In that order!
 
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Logger

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@iamvolitant I fully understand if you never want to post here again!
However, I am very hopeful you recovered your Mavic. Did you have any luck finding it?
 

Paul2660

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Follow the links on this site, to upload the .txt from your phone or tablet. Hopefully someone can help you pinpoint the area grid to look for the Mavic. Sounds like the drone did go a bit past the last location recorded in Find my Drone.

Sorry to hear about the loss,

Paul Caldwell
 
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lightbg

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Always fly the aircraft first priority. Just because it's unmanned doesn't mean you treat it differently. Deal with distractions later..........unless you want to keep rebuying Mavics, then after the first 30 or so DJI will make you a board member.

Jake
 

tcope

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Let's break this down....

First low battery warning came on, and Auto RTH too, so I promptly cancel RTH (so it doesn’t unneccessarily climb to 300 ft) and instead I flew back to where my car was pulled off into the grass. Once it was directly over my head (also the home location) I started bringing it down when suddenly I saw police lights behind me.
You should be _back_ at the homepoint/landing area at 30%/low battery. This is in case something happens.... like the police pull up.


I froze. Set the remote down, and walked back to the police car with nothing in my hand. I told the officer I didn’t need any help, my car was ok, and he quickly barked back that it was illegal to pull off to the side of the road where I was. I said ok, I’ll move, never mentioned the drone.
I'm simply confused about this. You have an aircraft in the air and you completely released control of it? I'm _guessing_ (I think it is a good guess though) that you were trying to hide your flight from the police. Tossing out all control of a flying aircraft is probably not moving in the right direction. I'm guessing you are going to go back, pick up the controller and do the right thing at this point.

Went back to the car and didn’t know what to do, drone was still hovering out of sight, about 100 ft up directly above me. I quickly realized the officer wasn’t going anywhere until I left, so plan A of “just wait it out” was out of the question. Plan B was “just land anyway” but in my panicked state i thought that If he was already mad at me for just being pulled over in the grass, didn’t want to see what he’d do when I landed a drone right in front of him on the side of the road. So I just started driving.
Back in control? Nope.... went from bad to worse to.... this.

Lets jump ahead...

I took the remote off the passenger seat and flew the Mavic up the road as well, trailing a bit behind my car. Remember it’s been beeeping at me this whole time, and starts going into critical low battery mode. Making me panic more, and begins to descend itself.
Where? Who knows... maybe the middle of the freeway. Maybe in front of an oncoming vehicle on the freeway. You took off from the side of the freeway so that was the RTH point[/quote]

My recommendation would be to leave the Mavic there and perhaps look into another hobby. I'm trying _really_ hard not to be critical but... you left a hovering drone next to a freeway and drove off! If you find the Mavic, PLEASE fly more safely in the future. When you make several mistakes, don't continue down the road and make even bigger ones to hide the first ones. Pulling off the side of the road to get some pictures, not a big deal. When the police roll up, ask him/her if you can land first and then talk to them. This should show them that you are _thinking_ about flying in a safe manner, not get you into more trouble. I appreciate you stepping up and posting this. Perhaps it is a learning experience.
 

tcope

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I hope the drone is found . I don’t think it’s very nice that the keyboard warriors beat up the OP so hard . Most would not talk so harsh face to face .
I understand your point but what else can be said? Perhaps some tough love love is needed here. Personally I have _nothing_ against the OP (I'd be petty if I did) but I also felt that some things needed to be said. It takes a _lot_ of heart to post mistakes, I'll give the OP credit for that.
 

HippoDrone

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Damm, and I thought texting and driving was bad. I know hindsight is 20-20 but you should have landed the drone as you were planning on doing. Police or not. Thats what I would have done. Anyway I hope you find your drone. It sounds like you have good data on its landing and I'm sure you will locate it.
 

Canuk

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I agree that flying beside the road with the car parked on the shoulder is not a good idea .
Flying the drone while looking for the next off ramp is terrible .

But as far as being responsible for a crash because someone thought it was interesting well driving and crashed .
That’s distracted driving , tickets are handed out for that .
I live in northern Alberta where winters are way to long . So because of long winters the summers are busy .
There seems to be road repairs going on every where . You watch them and crash , it’s your fault .
Going on country roads in the fall you might see a ten point elk come out in front of you .
Drive past a farm and you might witness farm animals getting it on . Bulls are not shy . Is the bull to blame if someone crashes watching how new T-bone steaks are built .
How about someone getting there new modular home set in place by two huge cranes . Not everyone has witnessed a house hanging in the air from two cranes . Everyday in the summer something is going on . It’s the drivers job to drive .
All that being said driving and flying is terrible . That could of caused a crash . That could of turned out so bad .
 

iamvolitant

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Coming back to update everyone, Mavic was found safely, thanks for the advice/encouragment in the search efforts

Drove an hour or so back to the landing site in the morning, and widened the search in the daylight. Looking at the logs I saw 10% battery left before losing signal, which made me uncomfortable wondering how much of a RTH sequence couldve been flown with 10% battery. Gave @AMRE2ME2 ’s advice a try and spent an hour scouring the area between the home point and lost recorded point but nothing found at first.

Decided to check logs one more time before giving up and driving home, and noticed that the last 3 points were all in a quick trajectory forward, with the final datapoint being exactly where I was trying to get the Mavic to land over the gravel patch.
But the last data point was still showing some right stick input pushing it to fly forward (my last quick flick of the stick to stretch the glide into the gravel). Also showed 6 foot altitude (probably 26 ft AGL considering my launch point) and 16 satellites.

I wondered if somehow instead of landing, hovering, or RTH, the drone just maintained those inputs and kept flying forward after losing signal. Seemed unlikely, but I had looked everywhere else and was ready to give up so i looked anyway. Sure enough I walked about 60 feet beyond its last reported location, crossed the street and waded through the weeds on the opposite side of the road and found it gently resting atop some long grass, without even a cracked prop.
Not sure if that’s always the case, but at least in this instance of a forced low battery landing, lost signal didn’t initiate RTH, the Mavic kept it’s downward glide forward as if it were still following it's last stick inputs. @RayOZ and @Paul2660 were spot on.


Lessons learned:

Come back and land with more battery than minimums. As a comparison when I fly, I never land with FAA fuel minimums, always plan an extra amount of buffer in the fuel tanks just in case, should practice the same with the mavic.

Number one regret was I should’ve swiped to enable autoland over the weeds when I had the chance and the signal, and should’ve realized I was going to lose signal that low anyway. At the time I was too afraid I wouldn't have be able find it in the weeds or would damage it if I didn’t have the most perfectly flat landing surface. Wrong on both accounts.

Also probably should’ve just landed on the side of the road in front of the cop. @macoman is right, a ticket for stopping roadside is still much cheaper than a lost Mavic. With everything going on at the moment, I didn’t make that realization until after it was lost.

Thanks everyone for the comments, quick feedback:
Sorry @Irish-apple , I'm with @Canuk on this one. It's not wrong to fly within visual sight of any other driver, neat story but ridiculous not "sensible".

@tcope I dont disagree with your or other's opinions on what the right thing to do would've been, but I do disagree with your "tough love" strategy. What do you really think that will accomplish? If i came on these boards boasting about reckless behavior or encouraging others to do something unsafe, that's one thing, but I came with a simple question and gave an honest and cautionary backstory where i admit to several wrongdoings and my mistakes, (hopefully so others can learn from them like I did) and your answer is to lose the drone and quit flying? I believe you when you say you aren't trying to be petty, but just be aware that the hyperbolic self-righteousness is what makes people not want to come to these boards at all, let alone share when they make mistakes.

@lightbg may take your advice if only 30 more drones are needed til i get a seat on the board :)
 

MavicCF

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Coming back to update everyone, Mavic was found safely, thanks for the advice/encouragment in the search efforts

Drove an hour or so back to the landing site in the morning, and widened the search in the daylight. Looking at the logs I saw 10% battery left before losing signal, which made me uncomfortable wondering how much of a RTH sequence couldve been flown with 10% battery. Gave @AMRE2ME2 ’s advice a try and spent an hour scouring the area between the home point and lost recorded point but nothing found at first.

Decided to check logs one more time before giving up and driving home, and noticed that the last 3 points were all in a quick trajectory forward, with the final datapoint being exactly where I was trying to get the Mavic to land over the gravel patch.
But the last data point was still showing some right stick input pushing it to fly forward (my last quick flick of the stick to stretch the glide into the gravel). Also showed 6 foot altitude (probably 26 ft AGL considering my launch point) and 16 satellites.

I wondered if somehow instead of landing, hovering, or RTH, the drone just maintained those inputs and kept flying forward after losing signal. Seemed unlikely, but I had looked everywhere else and was ready to give up so i looked anyway. Sure enough I walked about 60 feet beyond its last reported location, crossed the street and waded through the weeds on the opposite side of the road and found it gently resting atop some long grass, without even a cracked prop.
Not sure if that’s always the case, but at least in this instance of a forced low battery landing, lost signal didn’t initiate RTH, the Mavic kept it’s downward glide forward as if it were still following it's last stick inputs. @RayOZ and @Paul2660 were spot on.


Lessons learned:

Come back and land with more battery than minimums. As a comparison when I fly, I never land with FAA fuel minimums, always plan an extra amount of buffer in the fuel tanks just in case, should practice the same with the mavic.

Number one regret was I should’ve swiped to enable autoland over the weeds when I had the chance and the signal, and should’ve realized I was going to lose signal that low anyway. At the time I was too afraid I wouldn't have be able find it in the weeds or would damage it if I didn’t have the most perfectly flat landing surface. Wrong on both accounts.

Also probably should’ve just landed on the side of the road in front of the cop. @macoman is right, a ticket for stopping roadside is still much cheaper than a lost Mavic. With everything going on at the moment, I didn’t make that realization until after it was lost.

Thanks everyone for the comments, quick feedback:
Sorry @Irish-apple , I'm with @Canuk on this one. It's not wrong to fly within visual sight of any other driver, neat story but ridiculous not "sensible".

@tcope I dont disagree with your or other's opinions on what the right thing to do would've been, but I do disagree with your "tough love" strategy. What do you really think that will accomplish? If i came on these boards boasting about reckless behavior or encouraging others to do something unsafe, that's one thing, but I came with a simple question and gave an honest and cautionary backstory where i admit to several wrongdoings and my mistakes, (hopefully so others can learn from them like I did) and your answer is to lose the drone and quit flying? I believe you when you say you aren't trying to be petty, but just be aware that the hyperbolic self-righteousness is what makes people not want to come to these boards at all, let alone share when they make mistakes.

@lightbg may take your advice if only 30 more drones are needed til i get a seat on the board :)
Welcome to Mavic Pilots!
With this one post, you have placed yourself high up on my totem pole. Well worded and a perfect response to all. It’s a pleasure to have you join us! -CF
 

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