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Satellite/LTE control Mavic Pro/Pro Platinum

Joined
Jan 21, 2018
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#1
Hi Guys,

I know I am new to the forum (I am a satellite, chemistry and saltwater reef guy) but I have been interested in developing an alternative signal method to control your Mavic Pro, pro platinum and even more expensive units like the Inspire 2 and Matrice. Now there are really two feasible options (both of which I would hope to make universal).

1. Satellite control on the iridium network
-the iridium network has global coverage so your drones would work at an unlimited range anywhere in the world and only be limited by the battery (which is the next issue I want to tackle).
2. LTE - I am less familiar with how this would work as I have never worked for a cellular company but I will tell you this option would be the least expensive as cell providers allow you to transfer mass quantities of data for cheap. Again there would be unlimited range for your drone (only limited by batter and cell covereage). This is also the downside as your unit would not work if your were up in the mountains away from major highways.

So I am taking a poll interested in how many of you would buy this if it was reasonably priced, it would have an annual subscription fee but would be open to how this would work like flex plans etc.
 

ftttu

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#4
I brought up that concept in the phantompilots forum in '16, and someone with more tech knowledge shot my idea down, saying that there was too much latency with the cellular network and/or satellite.
 
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#5
I brought up that concept in the phantompilots forum in '16, and someone with more tech knowledge shot my idea down, saying that there was too much latency with the cellular network and/or satellite.
Yea but now things have changed a lot. Companies like Inmarsat and iridium have launched new high speed satellite networks and obviously bandwidth has been upped on all cell carriers. Latency on these are about 14ms.
 
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Kilrah

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#8
Pointless for anything else than BVLOS applications that indeed need approval.

Line of sight is a very long way. Plus it’s not just about flying it halfway across your county but more about the quality of connection and having a backup to losing drones.
It's less than the built-in link is capable of. And the backup for that range is already provided by the failsafe mechanisms.

Really it seems your market there is a handful of specific industrial applications, not consumers.
 

Simmo

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#10
LP you are correct!! No doubt!
But poaching the idea to people that are currently still trying to understand and comply with CURRENT laws is IMO the wrong audience.
You dont get guys that can hack umm 'Ford car chips, posting on the family ford day website'....

(fyi between the ' ' was totally fabricated because I dont even know if there is a Family Ford day, or even for that matter, chips..)
 

2nckayakers

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#11
This is completely different from driverless cars. IF all you want is an autonomous drone, then you are in the wrong hobby. The whole fun in these are that you control them. You can pull the sticks and go where ever you want to go and see what you want to see from a whole different perspective. If all you want to do is press a button, fly 1000 feet in the air and go any distance you want looking at the ground, the I can save you a lot of money, frustration and headaches, there is this thing called Google Maps, and you aren't limited to 27 minutes of flight time, and you can go anywhere in the world in a split second. The best thing about it is if you are reading this forum it means you have a computer and you can use Google Maps for free! No fly away risk, no danger to other aircraft, no aggravated neighbors, no invasion of privacy claims and best of all NO FAA rules! And if you say that it isn't the same thing because you don't get that feeling of flying? Go use Google Earth and it has a flight sim mode!

The only thing this technology you speak of would do for me (or the average non commercial user) is if by some miracle you get the FAA and the whole civil aviation community on board with the idea that we can let drones operate outside our un aided VLOS and without our direct control. That is NOT going to happen anytime soon. The only way you ever get that to happen is if every person flying a drone goes through comprehensive flight training (way more than required by 107), and your drone is equipped with a transponder that will broadcast your location to everyone.

Now if I wanted to be an outlaw and ignore the VLOS rule (which I typically don't do), I could already fly autonomously using Litchi and send my Mavic on a 5 mile round trip or 10 to 15 mile one way trip and I wouldn't need any technology more than what I already have.

I don't know about others on here, but my LTE service isn't 100% reliable I don't care what Verizon says, and Viasat has one of the most powerful birds providing high speed data links and I still manage to lose satellite connection when I want to stream my favorite show on TV. So nothing is going to provide absolute positive control unless you are the Military.
 
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#12
Thank you. Message me your contact info if you’d like to be one of the first to receive a first limited production unit for testing. Over the weekend I assembled a few engineers a, sat coms guy from iridium and a LTE expert from a company here in Seattle. I can keep you posted on what we come up with.
 

dvarapala

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#13
My concerns would be latency and bandwidth. How difficult is it to control a drone with several hundred milliseconds of lag? Can the system still relay a clear. glitch-free image from the drone? And how much will it all cost?

 
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#14
Well to be honest this is has to do with my own personal obsession with satellite communications. With BGAN and even Global Xpress latency is 800 milliseconds and global Xpress Is 700. I really think Iridium’s new Satellite Systems Next and Certus might be the answer as these are the absolute newest broadband networks, literally being launched as we speak, I think the last was just a week ago. These are Low Orbit Earth (LEO) satellites and companies (forgive me fo jumping around) like Inmarsat) offer speeds as fast as 50mbps. Inmarsat operates off of only 3 satellites that are 22,000 miles away from earth and covers the entire globe except the polar caps. Iridiums network is a lot closer utilizing LEO with a constellation of 75 brand sinking new satellites. These offer complete global coverage (even the polar caps) and are not subject to interference as they operate on a much different frequency than cellular and the current 2.4 and 5.8ghz utilizes by the mavic, inspire 2 and cendence remotes. Anyways these Iridium satellites that are LEO are only 485 miles away not only lowering latency but giving you access to more satellite fixes at once as opposed to with Inmarsat when you really are only locked into the single satellite in geosynchronous orbit on your closest longitude. I still haven’t ruled out LTE but the idea of being able to operate where there is no cell coverage is appealing but there are advantages wit LTE, think of a FaceTime call but instead of just the video we add the other information along with it. What I’m saying is If LTE was used it would be a connected solution like a phone call not just sending packets of data back and fourth like a text message.

Sorry if that was long winded but what I’m saying is my company would probably cover the development costs as this could have a lot of other applications. For example my company monitors Reef Systems all around the world so this tech could be applied to different pieces of our equipment. It would have to be affordable. Satellite devices run anywhere between $400 and $1500. LTE devices could be free or under $100 with subscription.
 
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#15
We already know it can be done the government uses it on predators and reapers and all kinds of other autonomous stuff we don’t even know about. These are all linked with data sent via satellite.
 

dvarapala

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#16
We already know it can be done the government uses it on predators and reapers and all kinds of other autonomous stuff we don’t even know about. These are all linked with data sent via satellite.
Well sure. The government also has a drone called Argus with a 1.8 gigapixel surveillance camera that can cover an entire city and download full motion images to the ground in real time as well as archive the entire feed for later forensic analysis, but that doesn't mean you or I could afford to duplicate that capability. :D

It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
 
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#17
Well sure. The government also has a drone called Argus with a 1.8 gigapixel surveillance camera that can cover an entire city and download full motion images to the ground in real time as well as archive the entire feed for later forensic analysis, but that doesn't mean you or I could afford to duplicate that capability. :D

It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
The Argus sounds sweet!
 

CyberNate

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#18
Hi Guys,

I know I am new to the forum (I am a satellite, chemistry and saltwater reef guy) but I have been interested in developing an alternative signal method to control your Mavic Pro, pro platinum and even more expensive units like the Inspire 2 and Matrice. Now there are really two feasible options (both of which I would hope to make universal).

1. Satellite control on the iridium network
-the iridium network has global coverage so your drones would work at an unlimited range anywhere in the world and only be limited by the battery (which is the next issue I want to tackle).
2. LTE - I am less familiar with how this would work as I have never worked for a cellular company but I will tell you this option would be the least expensive as cell providers allow you to transfer mass quantities of data for cheap. Again there would be unlimited range for your drone (only limited by batter and cell covereage). This is also the downside as your unit would not work if your were up in the mountains away from major highways.

So I am taking a poll interested in how many of you would buy this if it was reasonably priced, it would have an annual subscription fee but would be open to how this would work like flex plans etc.
I'm interested as well! Hook me up!
 
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#19
You got it. I did research on that Argos drone. It’s just a bunch of really high quality cameras like are in your cell phone put together. Kind of interesting, looking at tech like this that already exists is a huge advantage.
 
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#20
Satellite tech here (terrestrial down link. Owned my own company for about 10 years before selling it)

The issue most definitely (besides FAA and people's fears) will be too much latency. Easy way to show this and not even satellites, call your land based phone with your cell phone and talk in one and listen to your voice getting delayed to the other. In this test we're leaving an almost 44.5 thousand (~44,500) mile round trip that communications satellites sit in. I know what you're saying, "speed of light is really fast!" and you're correct, even with JUST the round trip transmission time of your signal would be about a quarter second (too much by the way to be feasible). However this leaves out, processing time, queue length of your data packets, etc. Not to mention the cost of using someone's satellite to bounce your toy airplane's signal off of.

Yea .. ah no. Way to think outside the box tho.

As Encrypted said .. yes, military does it. A) they have their own satellites and control the signals. B) their drones are a bit larger than the DJI products. (small/mid sized aircraft) and there is a bit of autonomous control mixed in with the live control to account for momentary drops in cmd link. Conjecture on my part but it would make sense.

As much as a half second delay in control response would not be a big deal for a drone cruising at altitude with video cameras or a "package" to deliver. Remember they're not flying 30mph in parks at ground level, or sight seeing within 15' of a building 200' AGL.
 
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