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

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
I think you're a little over the top with your comment. If he was free to fly in that area then the only problem would have been parking his car on the side of the road. It all depends where this happened. There are tons of videos of pilots using the follow me, POI mode and there is nothing wrong with it as long as he's not endangering anyone.. No need to hassell the guy because he has ZERO experience dealing with law enforcement.. He did NOTHING wrong in my opinion..
 
What’s the deal with your paralyzing panic when in the presence of police?
It’s the world we live in these days not to mention it’s how the government wants people to react to every cop with a badge and blue and reds. Why do you think they have them all dress up now like they’re Seal Team Six to drive around to hand out traffic tickets?
 
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
You're funny! Great story. Think I’d probably panic same way.
 
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Other motorists probably thought your car broke down and reported you.

The cop was probably angry because he was sent to check on you.

I would check between the intended landing area and your 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.....
What is "the other landing button on remote"?
Does the Spark have such one also (Is it just the RTH button on remote, and that acts differently to the RTH initiated on screen?)
 
And this is the post that makes me delete this site.
This has got to be the most ignorant drone story I've ever heard.
Glad your driving and flying didn't kill anyone else on the road. Why didn't you just land it and tell the cop the story?
Unbelievable.
 
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 :)
Well bloody said! You answered “Dicks” (nicest word I could think of) in a much nicer and succinct way than I would of people need to get a grip and think before they hop on their little self righteous soap box acting holier than tho, great news you found the drone happy flying Dx
 
I'm not passing judgement .... but posting assistance. Be very wary of that battery for a few flights. Lipos DO NOT like to be used below 80% of their capacity. I'd fly it off at least once with no props sitting on a table playing with the settings and the camera.
80%?? Come again I am guessing you meant 30% ? Which would make much more sense
 
I meant to say do not use more than 80% capacity of a battery. I deleted my original post to not add confusion. The 80% rule for lipos has been around for a long time.
 
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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
 
Don't' sweat the guys that look for every opportunity to shame other Mavic owners. I have had "well know members" simple answer my questions with a comment like this. "I don't know the answer to your question and you're too stupid to talk to."
 
Seeing the flashing lights SUDDENLY in your drone video would alarm me, too. Heck, it could be a chase, abduction, robbery or other incident not involving you but with a need to question you. It is hard to think logically when the adrenaline flows. So I, too, thank you for sharing your story. I found the sequences very interesting and I thank you for taking the time to describe it all. Very glad you found your drone. Many of us learned from your experience. Proper polite words with the officers would probably have allowed for time to land, especially adding the desire "to land safely." Happy flying.
 
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 :)

I would have gone with F.it and landed in front of the cop, he was probably checking Facebook anyway, but that's me. As you can see, I'm a newbie as well. I appreciate your candor and the fact you posted at all. In my later 46 years, I've tried to learn from other peoples mistakes instead of my own and these posts do help us all. There's an infinite amount of stupid **** we can do as pilots to ruin our day experienced or not and it never starts out that way. Pilots like yourself help the community as far as I'm concerned, you admit it, own it and post for others. Many of us understand when you post something like this you aren't going to do it again, we don't believe its necessary to reiterate the need for safety/rules/further regulation etc.. you know this already. Your the guy in the middle of it freaking out, wondering wtf? What a dumbass. (well, I've done similar and thought the same). I'm not the one to welcome you but I'm glad your here. The Lionshead above me got it right and I'm glad you got the Mavic back.
Your quote "Hyperbolic self-righteousness" according to Wikipedia.
(also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, and holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling or display of (usually smug) moral superiority derived from a sense that one's beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.
Take it with a grain of salt.
Happy flying!!
 
You should have hit record before throwing the controller, could have been great evidence if it all went wrong! Would definitely made a great photo of the blues and twos though. Glad it all worked out.
 
Thank you for your story, it was thrilling to read, although I'm sure that's not what you aimed for by writing it.
You made a couple of mistakes or took at least some disputable desicions there, but the main lesson to learn for everyone is the following:
Choose a good starting point where you can't get into troubles: Don't put your car where you are not allowed to. Don't start near a crowd of unpredictable kids or people that might not like what you do. Don't start with the feeling that you have to hide your drone. Just get yourself to a spot where it's safe and peaceful for the next couple of minutes. All the other troubles would not have happened.
Good luck with your next flights.
 
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Hmzzz... Sorry, but is it me...? I don't get this... I read this every time: Pilots ignoring signals, interrupting or canceling RTH once, twice or whatever how many times for whatever reason often saying 'last time I could fly way less than 5% or even under 0% battery charge' or reading whatever excuses to justify ignoring signals...

We're supposed to be 'pilots' of an 'aircraft' !

If I was on a plane finding out my pilot was ignoring signals during my flight I don't know what I would do to him if I ran in to him somewhere in public...
Not much good I guess...

1. Real 'pilots' should not 'panic'. They are trained to act in emergencies, follow rules and protocols, obey signals and use their common sense. We all should do the same.
2. When you aircraft says RTH you RTH, you don't cancel any signal, you just stick to what you're supposed to do. The manufacturer set the aviation electronics to certain settings and we're not supposed to play with them when flying.
3. If you want to play with settings and see how far you can go, what your aircraft can do, you do it out in a field where you can't harm anyone, but when you're out flying for what ever other reason consider yourself a 'real pilot' and remember the results may differ anytime, so don't use them to play with when flying for real.

Out here I'm supposed to keep my drone visual. I'm not allowed to fly further away from me than 200m and 150m high. I stick to the 150m due to suddenly passing jet fighters a couple of times weekly. Those 200m is the only rule I ignore, I fly 2000m distance max trying not to loose any signal, but I don't ignore my settings and signals.
When my signals are getting blurry I take it closer to me.
When my remote starts beeping at 30% I do what I'm supposed to do: fly home and not wait until it wants to RTH by itself. Who knows what the wind will do. Who knows what other problems I run into and who knows what mistakes I might make when flying home. I'm a human, I make mistakes.
To me, it's not about what I payed for the aircraft, it's about respecting rules, settings, avionics and chances... If it crashes due to my playing around, if I loose my Mavic to my stupidity it's up to me... It's my own fault and I will take my loss.

Anyway, probably best thing to do in this case would have been: drive off and let the Mavic hover. Never use the remote while driving to make it follow you. Flying takes more energy than hovering. After the cops drove past make a u-turn and get your drone. Don't make it follow you while driving. It knows where it is, it knows its home point. It will stay there hoving or land safely...

BTW. I'm happy for everyone finding their lost aircraft in good shape, but I hope next time common sense will rule out panic or any playing around with settings and avionics.
Lessons learned? I might hope so...
 
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