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Who/How/Why -- do you trust non-DJI automation apps? (Litchi, DroneLink, DroneDeploy, etc...)

Firejay27

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As a fairly new Mavic Air pilot I've been primarily using the DJI Go app for basic flying. When I needed to look for waypoint flying I found Litchi.

Now there is DroneLink that just came out as well. DroneLink looks really good and offers a lot more than Litchi BUT and this is a big BUT.. how do you put your trust in an automation app to not fly away with your drone or crash it?

If you're using the DJI app and it crashes your drone and the logs show it did I'm sure DJI will replace your drone. What happens if these third party apps do the same thing? How much do they stand behind their products?

How as a drone pilot do you yourself trust an app or do y'all have money to burn in replacing drones? Every time I fly a mission with Litchi I cross my fingers it comes back.

Curious because I've been seeing DroneLink out there and went to their web site. Like I said lots of great features. When I went to get the app though it's not available on Google Play yet because of an issue and you have to download the APK directly. It's version 1.01!!!! As a non-Part 107 pilot I can't afford to have my drone disappear into the wild blue yonder.

At what point do you take the plunge and at what point do you simply not trust the company producing the app?
 

ZX14-R

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I am having a good look at dronelink esp now free for non commercial use.
Interesting with preview....
 
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MAvic_South_Oz

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I really don't like the idea of using these autonomous apps, unless you have a very good reason like mapping etc, for hobby or biz.
If using Litchi, Drone Deploy, Pix 4D, probably others out there, and now DroneLink, yep DJI won't want to know you if something happens.
Pretty sure most 3rd party apps just can't afford to accept the risk either, with how much error pilots could make in mission programming.

If using these apps to fly missions you couldn't normally, like over mountains beyond controller signal LOS, or great distances, you are obviously breaking VLOS rules, so a bit of risk there unless in a vast wilderness with minuscule possibility of others, that's besides risk of losing a drone.

Suppose you should ask yourself why you want to use these type of apps, and why you wish to not fly your drone.
Flying it is the main fun, having total control at a whim of where you shot video / photos.
 

Meta4

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how do you put your trust in an automation app to not fly away with your drone or crash it?
If you're using the DJI app and it crashes your drone and the logs show it did I'm sure DJI will replace your drone. What happens if these third party apps do the same thing? How much do they stand behind their products?
Having looked at the flight data from hundreds of flight incidents, I still haven't seen a case of the app used for flying having caused the loss of a drone.
How as a drone pilot do you yourself trust an app or do y'all have money to burn in replacing drones? Every time I fly a mission with Litchi I cross my fingers it comes back.
The biggest problem with Litchi and mapping apps is that they will send the drone exactly where the flyer programs them to.
If the flight programming is wrong, the flight ends badly.
 

parkgt

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I really don't like the idea of using these autonomous apps, unless you have a very good reason like mapping etc, for hobby or biz.

Suppose you should ask yourself why you want to use these type of apps, and why you wish to not fly your drone.
Flying it is the main fun, having total control at a whim of where you shot video / photos.
Repeatability is one area where these programs really shine. Filming a multi day, week or seasonal view of construction or other scenes where the footage is spliced together can't be done near as well by hand flying.

Filming a runner for instance along a known course is easier when the only thing you have to contend with is framing the shot rather than being concerned with the path.

Consistent speed is another plus.

I don't use missions for most of my flying, but there are times when it is useful.

Back to OP's question:

I have never had an issue with Litchi or Dronelink failing to execute what I programmed. As mentioned above that can be bad if one is not careful to understand what they are programming and how the programs react.

Dronelink in particular is very versatile and powerful but you have to understand it. The preview modes both on screen and in the field can help keep you out of trouble.
 
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MAvic_South_Oz

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Repeatability is one area where these programs really shine. Filming a multi day, week or seasonal view of construction or other scenes where the footage is spliced together can't be done near as well by hand flying.

Filming a runner for instance along a known course is easier when the only thing you have to content with is framing the shot rather than being concerned with the path.

Consistent speed is another plus.

I don't use missions for most of my flying, but there are times when it is.
Very true, have seen some great time lapse like videos of seasons passing and construction sites etc.

Might be a reason to try DroneLink.
 

brett8883

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As a fairly new Mavic Air pilot I've been primarily using the DJI Go app for basic flying. When I needed to look for waypoint flying I found Litchi.

Now there is DroneLink that just came out as well. DroneLink looks really good and offers a lot more than Litchi BUT and this is a big BUT.. how do you put your trust in an automation app to not fly away with your drone or crash it?

If you're using the DJI app and it crashes your drone and the logs show it did I'm sure DJI will replace your drone. What happens if these third party apps do the same thing? How much do they stand behind their products?

How as a drone pilot do you yourself trust an app or do y'all have money to burn in replacing drones? Every time I fly a mission with Litchi I cross my fingers it comes back.

Curious because I've been seeing DroneLink out there and went to their web site. Like I said lots of great features. When I went to get the app though it's not available on Google Play yet because of an issue and you have to download the APK directly. It's version 1.01!!!! As a non-Part 107 pilot I can't afford to have my drone disappear into the wild blue yonder.

At what point do you take the plunge and at what point do you simply not trust the company producing the app?
All of these apps use DJI SDK. It’s not inherently different from way DJI Go 4 works it’s just a different, much better interface. They all use the same programing under the hood it’s just way the user interacts with that program that’s different. DJI Go 4 really lacks when it comes to the user interface for waypoint missions which is why you see so many of these apps.
 

pmshop

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I started out with home made craft capable of automated missions.
So from that trial and error I was able to build confidence.
But Litchi and the rest are not infallible.
Case in point, both of my Mavic Air drift off course from what I program with Litchi.
This was supposed to follow the main road into downtown of my home town:
 
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Dave Maine

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The point has been made already but is worth restating. The drone is being controlled by DJI, through the api (applications programming interface). The GUI, either Go4, Litchi, or others simply que up the commands to be sent to this interface controls the drone flight. This api is documented and fairly easy say to use. It is well tested, as the Go4 GUI uses it.

The big problem is the user’t undderstanding of how this all works. Most crashes are caused by the user programming the drone to fly into something. The usual mistakes are not understanding how the height of ground is calculated, and that ground height does NOT include building height or tree height.
 

RickinWaST

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Trust. The psychology behind trust is interesting. We trust "things" everyday, sometimes without giving it a 2nd thought. Too many stories where that inherent trust failed. Like trusting a iPhone map app to get you to the correct destination. I still consult a paper map before heading out (-:

I've completed my first 60 days of owning my 1st drone {M2P}. Started out using the DJI G0 app and was pretty happy with it. That was the app referenced in the manual and almost everyone used it based on the posts here in the forum.

Litchi. About 1 month ago I used the search function to read more posts about Litchi. I was impressed especially with its off-line waypoints ability using "Mission Hub". My first thought before actually used it was, could I trust it?

Familiarity. My trust in using Litchi has increased simply by using it more and its performance; doing exactly what I preprogrammed using "Mission Hub."

Like someone posted, I have not seen a crash report where it has been verified the DJI app or Litchi app was the cause.
 

RickinWaST

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"The usual mistakes are not understanding how the height of ground is calculated, and that ground height does NOT include building height or tree height."

With the DJI and Litchi app... When I've preprogrammed a set of waypoints, when I get onsite, I pilot the M2P around the area to verify the heights, and if necessary, reprogram the waypoints.
 

pmshop

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The big problem is the users understanding of how this all works. Most crashes are caused by the user programming the drone to fly into something. The usual mistakes are not understanding how the height of ground is calculated, and that ground height does NOT include building height or tree height.
And, Google Maps being in error.
Case in point, my "experience" trying to get a reveal at Frenchmans Mountain overlooking Las Vegas.
I was to fly over a crest at a 45° to the right of flying straight for the reveal.
I programmed the flight at 150ft AGL
That would mean it would be 150ft over the crest.
I made sure this was correct with Virtual Litchi Mission several times.
verified "above ground was selected for each WP

The actual results were "Smashing"

What happened is I got a reading at the crest of 3660ft above sea level when I got up there to recover.
Google maps thought it was 3,805 Above sea level including the 150ft AGL.
Meaning it was flying at 3655ft above sea level to try to clear the crest.
 

parkgt

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Question from an uninitiated droner. Why not just use the Go app?
One of the most significant is you cannot use the GO4 to set up missions from the comfort of your home PC.

Litchi and especially Dronelink offer many more powerful and versatile ways to program paths and camera commands than GO4.

You can preview the mission on Google Earth to check framing and path execution before heading out.
 

Firejay27

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Question from an uninitiated droner. Why not just use the Go app?
The GoApp doesnt support waypoint operations.. at least not for the Air. I posted this question because I recently had/have a need for repeating the same flight over and over vs just flying. Lots of choices in third party apps but as someone in IT that subscribes to Murphy's Law when it comes to third party coding I was curious on the reliability and trust of using a third party app for my 1k investment.
 

pmshop

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Question from an uninitiated droner. Why not just use the Go app?
Some lower models (Spark & Mavic Air) will not perform waypoint missions through the DJI GO 4 App.
 

Doppler

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And, Google Maps being in error.
Case in point, my "experience" trying to get a reveal at Frenchmans Mountain overlooking Las Vegas.
I was to fly over a crest at a 45° to the right of flying straight for the reveal.
I programmed the flight at 150ft AGL
That would mean it would be 150ft over the crest.
I made sure this was correct with Virtual Litchi Mission several times.
verified "above ground was selected for each WP

The actual results were "Smashing"

What happened is I got a reading at the crest of 3660ft above sea level when I got up there to recover.
Google maps thought it was 3,805 Above sea level including the 150ft AGL.
Meaning it was flying at 3655ft above sea level to try to clear the crest.
Glad you recovered it. Did you have vision sensors and front obstacle avoidance enabled? It was my understanding that Litchi made use if those features same as GO4.
 

pmshop

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Glad you recovered it. Did you have vision sensors and front obstacle avoidance enabled? It was my understanding that Litchi made use if those features same as GO4.
Yes,
But with the craft pointed 45° to the right, it couldn't "see" the crest coming.
 

Barthur

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I use Drone link. I like the multitude ways one can program a mission.It can do way more than other apps. Also saving and sharing your mission parameters is great. Have had no issues as of yet.
 

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