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EVO II Buyback or Upgrade Plan

mtaylor

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Moderators, I searched for a related post that was specific to this topic and could not find one… If there is, I apologize in advance.

I cannot express my frustration with Autel enough without becoming unprofessional so I will make my issue known here in an effort to gain traction with those in a similar situation. I truly hope that someone in upper management at Autel takes time to read this because they surely are deaf to their customers that are calling and emailing regarding this situation.

I am a commercial inspection drone services company owner and pilot. My company performs many types of services to include agriculture, infrastructure, thermal, mapping, LiDAR and a few others. I have been flying DJI for the past five years professionally, and though their kits are good technology, modular and straight forward to use, I despise their flight restriction hoops one must jump through even when possessing pre-approved FAA authorizations and waivers – LAANC cannot be use with waivers.

My search for a reliable, cost effective and USA based company was nudged by DJIs overbearing , never ending restrictions and somewhat difficult to deal with customer support, something that I did not expect on the commercial side where I expected it to be more “professional”.

In that search, I came upon Autel and the Evo II Pro for lighter work. I liked the specs and everything about it and decided that I would purchase one for photogrammetry work and grounded the I2/X4S combo for a while. I purchased the Pro Rugged kit with the Live Deck, extra batteries, lights, an 8K gimbal, everything, every option for the aircraft and because we take care of our equipment and expect years of life – and the Autel care package.

The kit with all options and extended care was approx. $3000. A reasonable price and what I considered a good bang for the buck. The live deck worked very well and that was a great addition for my clients.

I purchased the kit at the end of the year in preparation for the spring and performed a couple of minor flights to become acclimated. I was impressed and looked forward to the next month or two to pass so that I could perform work with the aircraft.
I had experienced one issue with the aircraft when I attempted to change the gimbal and sent the unit back and Autel. They corrected the issue because it was only a couple of months after the purchase – thank you Autel.

An engineering side note to Autel: One of the Philips head screws used to hold the gimbal ribbon could not be removed because it was overtightened or stripped. If the gimbal is to be changed (6k to 8k and back), why would an engineer use the micro Philips head screw, especially with low grade metal? A Torx head or square head screw will prevent this issue very easily and be able to handle repeated changes.

I was now “all-in” with Autel. They answered the phone, I could speak to a human, their support was good and the package was very nice except for a few minor engineering issues – I have a mechanical engineering background so I may be critical.

When the Smart Controller was to be released, I began to explore those so that I could use an app that is terrain aware, we have our favorites. I contacted my approved reseller with a few questions. I was then told that I must be aware that Autel was experiencing chip issues and that no longer would V1 and V2 hardware be compatible. I said that there must be a mistake, no company would EOL tech hardware in that short of a time period, and of course I was incorrect. Before the flaming begins, I know how this came to be with China but that should never be a significant client related issue.

I contacted Autel directly via phone and spoke to one of two individuals that I regularly speak with. I expressed my concern to him and explained that I had purchased this 3K kit not more than a few months prior and asked what their solution to the situation would be.

I was told that they had spare parts but they did not know how long they would last, and that was their plan. Parts would be used to fix or replace as required and as long as parts were available. My response was that this plan was unacceptable, especially since I have the Autel Robotics Care plan that allows for two replacements – how would that work?

Nobody at Autel could answer basic questions… if I crash and the aircraft must be replaced, how will that be handled? Will I then be required to purchase a new controller and live deck? What if I drop and break my controller, or worse, drive over it? Those are version 1 and my new aircraft may or should be version 2. All rhetorical questions here because the answer is clear.

I respectfully asked him if Autel had a buyback / upgrade plan to implement for those in my situation, where very recently purchased kits to include everything mentioned would be negatively affected. Four phone calls over three months later, I was told that “we” (Autel) have no clear plan and you (I) should call back in a month or so. I was and I remain furious over this debacle.

No upgrade path, come on Autel. Where is the customer / vendor loyalty?

My polite debate with them was that the equipment was basically EOL as of the chip change and due to incompatibility issues with everything else Autel. I find that to be unacceptable and it all fell on deaf ears as I found myself speaking in circles. I asked to speak with someone in management that could hear my case and speak with me to come to any type of resolution. I was told that they too would tell me the same… basically to go away.

As a long time business owner, I find it appalling that Autel conducts business in this manner. If I were to conduct my business in this manner, I would be out of business.
I prepared to get away from my DJI thermal rig and older D-RTK rig in favor of the Evo II Dual and RTK. I had one on pre-order and was on a waiting list (at that time) and I cancelled both.

I believe that Autel will continue to stall until they can say that too much time has passed and we (Autel) cannot help.

I can no longer trust Autel to do what is right. How can I trust that the 12K Dual kit won’t be EOL in 1 or 2 years? That is a poor ROI when considering my M600Pro D-RTK is nearing 6yrs old and that I have rebuilt it to last, my I2 is nearly 5yrs. My M300 is newer but I expect it to last AND be supported at least 5yrs with proper maintenance, so why would expect less of Autel if they intend to sell and support “enterprise” systems? How does Autel intend to compete in the enterprise marketspace? BTW, the M600 was just recently EOL continued to be supported.

My intent is not to “bash” Autel. Their CEO and other problems are Autel problems and not mine to bear. I need to have proper resolution and I am certain that others here are in similar situations.
Autel, are you listening and will you answer the call to an amicable resolution for these Atuel deficiencies?

M. Taylor
 

Brock Inspector

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Moderators, I searched for a related post that was specific to this topic and could not find one… If there is, I apologize in advance.

I cannot express my frustration with Autel enough without becoming unprofessional so I will make my issue known here in an effort to gain traction with those in a similar situation. I truly hope that someone in upper management at Autel takes time to read this because they surely are deaf to their customers that are calling and emailing regarding this situation.

I am a commercial inspection drone services company owner and pilot. My company performs many types of services to include agriculture, infrastructure, thermal, mapping, LiDAR and a few others. I have been flying DJI for the past five years professionally, and though their kits are good technology, modular and straight forward to use, I despise their flight restriction hoops one must jump through even when possessing pre-approved FAA authorizations and waivers – LAANC cannot be use with waivers.

My search for a reliable, cost effective and USA based company was nudged by DJIs overbearing , never ending restrictions and somewhat difficult to deal with customer support, something that I did not expect on the commercial side where I expected it to be more “professional”.

In that search, I came upon Autel and the Evo II Pro for lighter work. I liked the specs and everything about it and decided that I would purchase one for photogrammetry work and grounded the I2/X4S combo for a while. I purchased the Pro Rugged kit with the Live Deck, extra batteries, lights, an 8K gimbal, everything, every option for the aircraft and because we take care of our equipment and expect years of life – and the Autel care package.

The kit with all options and extended care was approx. $3000. A reasonable price and what I considered a good bang for the buck. The live deck worked very well and that was a great addition for my clients.

I purchased the kit at the end of the year in preparation for the spring and performed a couple of minor flights to become acclimated. I was impressed and looked forward to the next month or two to pass so that I could perform work with the aircraft.
I had experienced one issue with the aircraft when I attempted to change the gimbal and sent the unit back and Autel. They corrected the issue because it was only a couple of months after the purchase – thank you Autel.

An engineering side note to Autel: One of the Philips head screws used to hold the gimbal ribbon could not be removed because it was overtightened or stripped. If the gimbal is to be changed (6k to 8k and back), why would an engineer use the micro Philips head screw, especially with low grade metal? A Torx head or square head screw will prevent this issue very easily and be able to handle repeated changes.

I was now “all-in” with Autel. They answered the phone, I could speak to a human, their support was good and the package was very nice except for a few minor engineering issues – I have a mechanical engineering background so I may be critical.

When the Smart Controller was to be released, I began to explore those so that I could use an app that is terrain aware, we have our favorites. I contacted my approved reseller with a few questions. I was then told that I must be aware that Autel was experiencing chip issues and that no longer would V1 and V2 hardware be compatible. I said that there must be a mistake, no company would EOL tech hardware in that short of a time period, and of course I was incorrect. Before the flaming begins, I know how this came to be with China but that should never be a significant client related issue.

I contacted Autel directly via phone and spoke to one of two individuals that I regularly speak with. I expressed my concern to him and explained that I had purchased this 3K kit not more than a few months prior and asked what their solution to the situation would be.

I was told that they had spare parts but they did not know how long they would last, and that was their plan. Parts would be used to fix or replace as required and as long as parts were available. My response was that this plan was unacceptable, especially since I have the Autel Robotics Care plan that allows for two replacements – how would that work?

Nobody at Autel could answer basic questions… if I crash and the aircraft must be replaced, how will that be handled? Will I then be required to purchase a new controller and live deck? What if I drop and break my controller, or worse, drive over it? Those are version 1 and my new aircraft may or should be version 2. All rhetorical questions here because the answer is clear.

I respectfully asked him if Autel had a buyback / upgrade plan to implement for those in my situation, where very recently purchased kits to include everything mentioned would be negatively affected. Four phone calls over three months later, I was told that “we” (Autel) have no clear plan and you (I) should call back in a month or so. I was and I remain furious over this debacle.

No upgrade path, come on Autel. Where is the customer / vendor loyalty?

My polite debate with them was that the equipment was basically EOL as of the chip change and due to incompatibility issues with everything else Autel. I find that to be unacceptable and it all fell on deaf ears as I found myself speaking in circles. I asked to speak with someone in management that could hear my case and speak with me to come to any type of resolution. I was told that they too would tell me the same… basically to go away.

As a long time business owner, I find it appalling that Autel conducts business in this manner. If I were to conduct my business in this manner, I would be out of business.
I prepared to get away from my DJI thermal rig and older D-RTK rig in favor of the Evo II Dual and RTK. I had one on pre-order and was on a waiting list (at that time) and I cancelled both.

I believe that Autel will continue to stall until they can say that too much time has passed and we (Autel) cannot help.

I can no longer trust Autel to do what is right. How can I trust that the 12K Dual kit won’t be EOL in 1 or 2 years? That is a poor ROI when considering my M600Pro D-RTK is nearing 6yrs old and that I have rebuilt it to last, my I2 is nearly 5yrs. My M300 is newer but I expect it to last AND be supported at least 5yrs with proper maintenance, so why would expect less of Autel if they intend to sell and support “enterprise” systems? How does Autel intend to compete in the enterprise marketspace? BTW, the M600 was just recently EOL continued to be supported.

My intent is not to “bash” Autel. Their CEO and other problems are Autel problems and not mine to bear. I need to have proper resolution and I am certain that others here are in similar situations.
Autel, are you listening and will you answer the call to an amicable resolution for these Atuel deficiencies?

M. Taylor
I empathize but the upgrade path doesn't seem to get you where you need to be. What you want or need may be better assurance of lasting V1 Evo II support. You mentioned you have a Live Deck. It does not work with can never be made or reengineered to work with V2 chipset they're now using (no provision for binding two devices to the new SDR chipset, it's hardware limited). If Autel really wants make further inroads in the Enterprise market with this pro-sumer Autel Evo II line, they're going to have to support the legacy gear that gets the job done. While drones sold for federal gov't use may have to be migrated to the new SDR chip from the older ZTE chipset (Entities List conflict), many other agencies and most all business persons not doing contractual work for the feds don't need that level of security oversight. If Autel is of a mind to do so, they might be able to keep everyone happy. Migrating those with V1 aircraft who want the V2 would be one way. Then Autel could harvest the ZTE chips from those trade ins to support those who need Live Deck or dual controllers.
 
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YuKay

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My condolences @mtaylor and you won't be alone. Worse, there are still v1 products in stock with some resellers, very few of which tell you up front that you're buying EOL products (although I note that yours did come clean when you enquired about the Smart Controller - but only after you had parted with $3k for your EOL drone).

Indefensibly, there wasn't even a notice on the Autel website about this chip problem and its consequences until two days ago when they buried a blog post in a section called "Tips & Tricks" so they were failing in their duty to the general public by allowing/encouraging them to buy up old EOL stock without any warnings.

Of course the then CEO did announce the chip problem on this forum a couple of months ago but his assurances about taking care of adversely affected customers were vague and never appeared in print or on the Autel website.

Even the new blog post isn't clear when it states:
If parts are not available for your version of the EVO II, we will perform the repair and/or replacement of your product with another version of equivalent value.

What does "another version of equivalent value" mean? And how can it be compatible with the v1 Live Deck or Smart Controller that you or others may already have purchased?

I don't see this problem going away until or unless Autel comes clean about precisely how it will compensate recent customers who suffer any losses as a result of buying v1 products. Autel were clearly planning this switch last year since the v2 prototypes were being tested last September but they said nothing while v1 stock was being shifted.

Their Terms of Service seek to ban customers from mounting a Class Action against them - in caps, no less:
16.6 No Class Actions
YOU AND AUTEL ROBOTICS AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.
But surely this can't be enforceable in any democratic country.

Imho, Autel need to clean up their act rapidly or face exactly the kind of Class Action that they think they can ban. What does your local congressman/senator have to say about it?
 
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herein2021

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Moderators, I searched for a related post that was specific to this topic and could not find one… If there is, I apologize in advance.

I cannot express my frustration with Autel enough without becoming unprofessional so I will make my issue known here in an effort to gain traction with those in a similar situation. I truly hope that someone in upper management at Autel takes time to read this because they surely are deaf to their customers that are calling and emailing regarding this situation.

I am a commercial inspection drone services company owner and pilot. My company performs many types of services to include agriculture, infrastructure, thermal, mapping, LiDAR and a few others. I have been flying DJI for the past five years professionally, and though their kits are good technology, modular and straight forward to use, I despise their flight restriction hoops one must jump through even when possessing pre-approved FAA authorizations and waivers – LAANC cannot be use with waivers.

My search for a reliable, cost effective and USA based company was nudged by DJIs overbearing , never ending restrictions and somewhat difficult to deal with customer support, something that I did not expect on the commercial side where I expected it to be more “professional”.

In that search, I came upon Autel and the Evo II Pro for lighter work. I liked the specs and everything about it and decided that I would purchase one for photogrammetry work and grounded the I2/X4S combo for a while. I purchased the Pro Rugged kit with the Live Deck, extra batteries, lights, an 8K gimbal, everything, every option for the aircraft and because we take care of our equipment and expect years of life – and the Autel care package.

The kit with all options and extended care was approx. $3000. A reasonable price and what I considered a good bang for the buck. The live deck worked very well and that was a great addition for my clients.

I purchased the kit at the end of the year in preparation for the spring and performed a couple of minor flights to become acclimated. I was impressed and looked forward to the next month or two to pass so that I could perform work with the aircraft.
I had experienced one issue with the aircraft when I attempted to change the gimbal and sent the unit back and Autel. They corrected the issue because it was only a couple of months after the purchase – thank you Autel.

An engineering side note to Autel: One of the Philips head screws used to hold the gimbal ribbon could not be removed because it was overtightened or stripped. If the gimbal is to be changed (6k to 8k and back), why would an engineer use the micro Philips head screw, especially with low grade metal? A Torx head or square head screw will prevent this issue very easily and be able to handle repeated changes.

I was now “all-in” with Autel. They answered the phone, I could speak to a human, their support was good and the package was very nice except for a few minor engineering issues – I have a mechanical engineering background so I may be critical.

When the Smart Controller was to be released, I began to explore those so that I could use an app that is terrain aware, we have our favorites. I contacted my approved reseller with a few questions. I was then told that I must be aware that Autel was experiencing chip issues and that no longer would V1 and V2 hardware be compatible. I said that there must be a mistake, no company would EOL tech hardware in that short of a time period, and of course I was incorrect. Before the flaming begins, I know how this came to be with China but that should never be a significant client related issue.

I contacted Autel directly via phone and spoke to one of two individuals that I regularly speak with. I expressed my concern to him and explained that I had purchased this 3K kit not more than a few months prior and asked what their solution to the situation would be.

I was told that they had spare parts but they did not know how long they would last, and that was their plan. Parts would be used to fix or replace as required and as long as parts were available. My response was that this plan was unacceptable, especially since I have the Autel Robotics Care plan that allows for two replacements – how would that work?

Nobody at Autel could answer basic questions… if I crash and the aircraft must be replaced, how will that be handled? Will I then be required to purchase a new controller and live deck? What if I drop and break my controller, or worse, drive over it? Those are version 1 and my new aircraft may or should be version 2. All rhetorical questions here because the answer is clear.

I respectfully asked him if Autel had a buyback / upgrade plan to implement for those in my situation, where very recently purchased kits to include everything mentioned would be negatively affected. Four phone calls over three months later, I was told that “we” (Autel) have no clear plan and you (I) should call back in a month or so. I was and I remain furious over this debacle.

No upgrade path, come on Autel. Where is the customer / vendor loyalty?

My polite debate with them was that the equipment was basically EOL as of the chip change and due to incompatibility issues with everything else Autel. I find that to be unacceptable and it all fell on deaf ears as I found myself speaking in circles. I asked to speak with someone in management that could hear my case and speak with me to come to any type of resolution. I was told that they too would tell me the same… basically to go away.

As a long time business owner, I find it appalling that Autel conducts business in this manner. If I were to conduct my business in this manner, I would be out of business.
I prepared to get away from my DJI thermal rig and older D-RTK rig in favor of the Evo II Dual and RTK. I had one on pre-order and was on a waiting list (at that time) and I cancelled both.

I believe that Autel will continue to stall until they can say that too much time has passed and we (Autel) cannot help.

I can no longer trust Autel to do what is right. How can I trust that the 12K Dual kit won’t be EOL in 1 or 2 years? That is a poor ROI when considering my M600Pro D-RTK is nearing 6yrs old and that I have rebuilt it to last, my I2 is nearly 5yrs. My M300 is newer but I expect it to last AND be supported at least 5yrs with proper maintenance, so why would expect less of Autel if they intend to sell and support “enterprise” systems? How does Autel intend to compete in the enterprise marketspace? BTW, the M600 was just recently EOL continued to be supported.

My intent is not to “bash” Autel. Their CEO and other problems are Autel problems and not mine to bear. I need to have proper resolution and I am certain that others here are in similar situations.
Autel, are you listening and will you answer the call to an amicable resolution for these Atuel deficiencies?

M. Taylor

I definitely sympathize with your situation but I highly doubt you will get any kind of a positive resolution. At their price points, DJI and Autel are the only games in town and yes DJI is more than 10x larger than the Autel subsidiary so they can afford to do things that Autel cannot; like offer better customer service and actual enterprise grade support.

Personally I think the main problem is that Autel is not clear about the reality of their situation; they should simply offer no more than a 90 day warranty and not label any of their products as "enterprise" since its clear they cannot honor such commitments; at least then customers who need to concern themselves with such things would know to go elsewhere.

I do think their products are great consumer/prosumer grade drones but when it comes to Enterprise grade the connotation extends to more than just the hardware; it also includes the support behind it. Requiring enterprise grade support is why I no longer build my own editing workstations and instead purchase workstation class hardware from HP with 4hr onsite support vs. fiddling around inside the case when things go wrong and waiting days for replacement parts to arrive from Amazon.

Autel on the other hand is doing everything they can to garner more sales even if it includes downright deceptive marketing such as labeling products as "enterprise" even though they know they don't have the support structure in place for it, stating the V2 chips will also feature significantly improved range (still haven't seen solid proof of this), and stating the EVO II will fly for 40min (this is not possible unless you dropped it from a spaceship 30 miles above earth with a parachute).

Fortunately for my company I only needed one and I was pretty aware of the realities of their situation prior to making a purchase but for my needs Autel fits perfectly. I have no expectations of support and will immediately sell all of my EVO II gear and upgrade to the III as soon as it is released because I already know how quickly the EVO II batteries and replacement parts will become impossible to source.
 
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Eagle's Eye Photo

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Agreed... based on history, the only realistic upgrade path will be the Evo III. You can hope all you want, but future use will be completely determined by availability of necessary ancillary parts (such as batteries). Backwards compatibility of future Evo III cameras with either Evo II version? Don't hold your breath. Vague threats and demands that something must be done to placate current customers will not change anything.

Autel is by no means alone in this... planned obsolesence is the most direct path for profitability for any of these companies. Period.
 

mtaylor

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I empathize but the upgrade path doesn't seem to get you where you need to be. What you want or need may be better assurance of lasting V1 Evo II support. You mentioned you have a Live Deck. It does not work with can never be made or reengineered to work with V2 chipset they're now using (no provision for binding two devices to the new SDR chipset, it's hardware limited). If Autel really wants make further inroads in the Enterprise market with this pro-sumer Autel Evo II line, they're going to have to support the legacy gear that gets the job done. While drones sold for federal gov't use may have to be migrated to the new SDR chip from the older ZTE chipset (Entities List conflict), many other agencies and most all business persons not doing contractual work for the feds don't need that level of security oversight. If Autel is of a mind to do so, they might be able to keep everyone happy. Migrating those with V1 aircraft who want the V2 would be one way. Then Autel could harvest the ZTE chips from those trade ins to support those who need Live Deck or dual controllers.
"It does not work with can never be made or reengineered to work with V2 chipset they're now using (no provision for binding two devices to the new SDR chipset, it's hardware limited)."
Thank you for replying.
Precisely my main complaint. They understandably initiated the changes after experiencing V1 chip manufacturing difficulties but in their change plan failed to implement compatibility at any level and that is a complete lack of consideration of the customer base.
I too have been part of decision making groups in the past, specifically in the software / hardware engineering realm and there are always tough, cost based decisions to be made and those decisions will never be favorable to or with all.
What really rubs me wrong with this situation is that Autel completely ignores the fact that they could implement some type of program, anything that would show the smallest bit of loyalty to the customer base.
"If Autel really wants make further inroads in the Enterprise market with this pro-sumer Autel Evo II line, they're going to have to support the legacy gear that gets the job done."
Agreed. I told them them that on the phone and email, nearly verbatim. Crickets...
I believe they have big dreams with no clear path of how to realistically achieve those dreams.
 
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Ungava

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Moderators, I searched for a related post that was specific to this topic and could not find one… If there is, I apologize in advance.

I cannot express my frustration with Autel enough without becoming unprofessional so I will make my issue known here in an effort to gain traction with those in a similar situation. I truly hope that someone in upper management at Autel takes time to read this because they surely are deaf to their customers that are calling and emailing regarding this situation.

I am a commercial inspection drone services company owner and pilot. My company performs many types of services to include agriculture, infrastructure, thermal, mapping, LiDAR and a few others. I have been flying DJI for the past five years professionally, and though their kits are good technology, modular and straight forward to use, I despise their flight restriction hoops one must jump through even when possessing pre-approved FAA authorizations and waivers – LAANC cannot be use with waivers.

My search for a reliable, cost effective and USA based company was nudged by DJIs overbearing , never ending restrictions and somewhat difficult to deal with customer support, something that I did not expect on the commercial side where I expected it to be more “professional”.

In that search, I came upon Autel and the Evo II Pro for lighter work. I liked the specs and everything about it and decided that I would purchase one for photogrammetry work and grounded the I2/X4S combo for a while. I purchased the Pro Rugged kit with the Live Deck, extra batteries, lights, an 8K gimbal, everything, every option for the aircraft and because we take care of our equipment and expect years of life – and the Autel care package.

The kit with all options and extended care was approx. $3000. A reasonable price and what I considered a good bang for the buck. The live deck worked very well and that was a great addition for my clients.

I purchased the kit at the end of the year in preparation for the spring and performed a couple of minor flights to become acclimated. I was impressed and looked forward to the next month or two to pass so that I could perform work with the aircraft.
I had experienced one issue with the aircraft when I attempted to change the gimbal and sent the unit back and Autel. They corrected the issue because it was only a couple of months after the purchase – thank you Autel.

An engineering side note to Autel: One of the Philips head screws used to hold the gimbal ribbon could not be removed because it was overtightened or stripped. If the gimbal is to be changed (6k to 8k and back), why would an engineer use the micro Philips head screw, especially with low grade metal? A Torx head or square head screw will prevent this issue very easily and be able to handle repeated changes.

I was now “all-in” with Autel. They answered the phone, I could speak to a human, their support was good and the package was very nice except for a few minor engineering issues – I have a mechanical engineering background so I may be critical.

When the Smart Controller was to be released, I began to explore those so that I could use an app that is terrain aware, we have our favorites. I contacted my approved reseller with a few questions. I was then told that I must be aware that Autel was experiencing chip issues and that no longer would V1 and V2 hardware be compatible. I said that there must be a mistake, no company would EOL tech hardware in that short of a time period, and of course I was incorrect. Before the flaming begins, I know how this came to be with China but that should never be a significant client related issue.

I contacted Autel directly via phone and spoke to one of two individuals that I regularly speak with. I expressed my concern to him and explained that I had purchased this 3K kit not more than a few months prior and asked what their solution to the situation would be.

I was told that they had spare parts but they did not know how long they would last, and that was their plan. Parts would be used to fix or replace as required and as long as parts were available. My response was that this plan was unacceptable, especially since I have the Autel Robotics Care plan that allows for two replacements – how would that work?

Nobody at Autel could answer basic questions… if I crash and the aircraft must be replaced, how will that be handled? Will I then be required to purchase a new controller and live deck? What if I drop and break my controller, or worse, drive over it? Those are version 1 and my new aircraft may or should be version 2. All rhetorical questions here because the answer is clear.

I respectfully asked him if Autel had a buyback / upgrade plan to implement for those in my situation, where very recently purchased kits to include everything mentioned would be negatively affected. Four phone calls over three months later, I was told that “we” (Autel) have no clear plan and you (I) should call back in a month or so. I was and I remain furious over this debacle.

No upgrade path, come on Autel. Where is the customer / vendor loyalty?

My polite debate with them was that the equipment was basically EOL as of the chip change and due to incompatibility issues with everything else Autel. I find that to be unacceptable and it all fell on deaf ears as I found myself speaking in circles. I asked to speak with someone in management that could hear my case and speak with me to come to any type of resolution. I was told that they too would tell me the same… basically to go away.

As a long time business owner, I find it appalling that Autel conducts business in this manner. If I were to conduct my business in this manner, I would be out of business.
I prepared to get away from my DJI thermal rig and older D-RTK rig in favor of the Evo II Dual and RTK. I had one on pre-order and was on a waiting list (at that time) and I cancelled both.

I believe that Autel will continue to stall until they can say that too much time has passed and we (Autel) cannot help.

I can no longer trust Autel to do what is right. How can I trust that the 12K Dual kit won’t be EOL in 1 or 2 years? That is a poor ROI when considering my M600Pro D-RTK is nearing 6yrs old and that I have rebuilt it to last, my I2 is nearly 5yrs. My M300 is newer but I expect it to last AND be supported at least 5yrs with proper maintenance, so why would expect less of Autel if they intend to sell and support “enterprise” systems? How does Autel intend to compete in the enterprise marketspace? BTW, the M600 was just recently EOL continued to be supported.

My intent is not to “bash” Autel. Their CEO and other problems are Autel problems and not mine to bear. I need to have proper resolution and I am certain that others here are in similar situations.
Autel, are you listening and will you answer the call to an amicable resolution for these Atuel deficiencies?

M. Taylor
Thank you for this post. I have a 6 month old 2P V1 and looked forward to a Smart Controller but Autels deplorable business decisions makes it clear for me. No more Autel products. I have $25K in a DJI fleet of drones and will continue to add their products to my fleet until such time Autel gets its act together.
 
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mtaylor

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My condolences @mtaylor and you won't be alone. Worse, there are still v1 products in stock with some resellers, very few of which tell you up front that you're buying EOL products (although I note that yours did come clean when you enquired about the Smart Controller - but only after you had parted with $3k for your EOL drone).

Indefensibly, there wasn't even a notice on the Autel website about this chip problem and its consequences until two days ago when they buried a blog post in a section called "Tips & Tricks" so they were failing in their duty to the general public by allowing/encouraging them to buy up old EOL stock without any warnings.

Of course the then CEO did announce the chip problem on this forum a couple of months ago but his assurances about taking care of adversely affected customers were vague and never appeared in print or on the Autel website.

Even the new blog post isn't clear when it states:


What does "another version of equivalent value" mean? And how can it be compatible with the v1 Live Deck or Smart Controller that you or others may already have purchased?

I don't see this problem going away until or unless Autel comes clean about precisely how it will compensate recent customers who suffer any losses as a result of buying v1 products. Autel were clearly planning this switch last year since the v2 prototypes were being tested last September but they said nothing while v1 stock was being shifted.

Their Terms of Service seek to ban customers from mounting a Class Action against them - in caps, no less:

But surely this can't be enforceable in any democratic country.

Imho, Autel need to clean up their act rapidly or face exactly the kind of Class Action that they think they can ban. What does your local congressman/senator have to say about it?
@YuKay Your comments are spot on and thank you for your reply... it appears that your research has revealed many of the results that I too have seen.
"Their Terms of Service seek to ban customers from mounting a Class Action against them - in caps, no less:"
That is one of those scratch your head moments when one asks, are they serious? I say good luck with that but everyone here knows that the likelihood of such a suit is nearly nil. IMO.
"What does "another version of equivalent value" mean? And how can it be compatible with the v1 Live Deck or Smart Controller that you or others may already have purchased?"
I asked that question directly of two reps via phone. I received a lot of, "uh, um" and other pondering with no real answers, as if they had not thought this through.
I remained very professional but I did not permit the standard, "we understand you are disappointed" replies to hard questions.
My pleas will likely fail and nothing may come of this but I stubbornly refuse to have them pi$$ down my back and tell me that it is raining, nor should anyone else accept that behavior.
 
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mtaylor

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I definitely sympathize with your situation but I highly doubt you will get any kind of a positive resolution. At their price points, DJI and Autel are the only games in town and yes DJI is more than 10x larger than the Autel subsidiary so they can afford to do things that Autel cannot; like offer better customer service and actual enterprise grade support.

Personally I think the main problem is that Autel is not clear about the reality of their situation; they should simply offer no more than a 90 day warranty and not label any of their products as "enterprise" since its clear they cannot honor such commitments; at least then customers who need to concern themselves with such things would know to go elsewhere.

I do think their products are great consumer/prosumer grade drones but when it comes to Enterprise grade the connotation extends to more than just the hardware; it also includes the support behind it. Requiring enterprise grade support is why I no longer build my own editing workstations and instead purchase workstation class hardware from HP with 4hr onsite support vs. fiddling around inside the case when things go wrong and waiting days for replacement parts to arrive from Amazon.

Autel on the other hand is doing everything they can to garner more sales even if it includes downright deceptive marketing such as labeling products as "enterprise" even though they know they don't have the support structure in place for it, stating the V2 chips will also feature significantly improved range (still haven't seen solid proof of this), and stating the EVO II will fly for 40min (this is not possible unless you dropped it from a spaceship 30 miles above earth with a parachute).

Fortunately for my company I only needed one and I was pretty aware of the realities of their situation prior to making a purchase but for my needs Autel fits perfectly. I have no expectations of support and will immediately sell all of my EVO II gear and upgrade to the III as soon as it is released because I already know how quickly the EVO II batteries and replacement parts will become impossible to source.
@herein2021 Thank you, I appreciate your input.
"Personally I think the main problem is that Autel is not clear about the reality of their situation; they should simply offer no more than a 90 day warranty and not label any of their products as "enterprise" since its clear they cannot honor such commitments; at least then customers who need to concern themselves with such things would know to go elsewhere."
Though I agree with the initial assessment of the 90 warranty, I believe that any company that sells "enterprise" equipment such as the Dual or RTK must provide assurances that the equipment is not a throw away asset. Too much money in that case IMO. 8 - 12K USD is in the realm of enterprise and also within the realm of requiring real assurances of support, functionality and quality.
It is for those reasons that I cancelled the RTK and Dual order / pre-order.
"Fortunately for my company I only needed one and I was pretty aware of the realities of their situation prior to making a purchase but for my needs Autel fits perfectly. I have no expectations of support and will immediately sell all of my EVO II gear and upgrade to the III as soon as it is released because I already know how quickly the EVO II batteries and replacement parts will become impossible to source."
I regret that I did not come here prior to my purchase and have the opportunity to communicate with you.
Truthfully, I like the aircraft and package, it works well for tasks that I purchased it for.... It is the whole Autel EOL situation that has me in a tiff.
 

mtaylor

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Agreed... based on history, the only realistic upgrade path will be the Evo III. You can hope all you want, but future use will be completely determined by availability of necessary ancillary parts (such as batteries). Backwards compatibility of future Evo III cameras with either Evo II version? Don't hold your breath. Vague threats and demands that something must be done to placate current customers will not change anything.

Autel is by no means alone in this... planned obsolesence is the most direct path for profitability for any of these companies. Period.
@Eagle's Eye Photo Thank you and I agree.
I have not had an opportunity to research the Evo III and noticed several comments about that new aircraft.
If you, or anyone here has unbiased information that you feel is informative and relevant to businesses, please paste a link. In the meanwhile I will use my Google Fu.
 

mtaylor

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Thank you for this post. I have a 6 month old 2P V1 and looked forward to a Smart Controller but Autels deplorable business decisions makes it clear for me. No more Autel products. I have $25K in a DJI fleet of drones and will continue to add their products to my fleet until such time Autel gets its act together.
 

mtaylor

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@Ungava Absolutely my position.
"I have $25K in a DJI fleet of drones and will continue to add their products to my fleet until such time Autel gets its act together."
My position as well. I too am into DJI for 50K and though I like the products, the "pains" at times are a real PITA and that is why I dipped my toe in the Autel pool.
I too must allow them to get their act together, if that is to happen.
 
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mtaylor

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Thank you all for replying, providing your experiences and adding context to this situation.
I was finding it difficult to believe that I was the only person in this situation and I am happy that I reached out for guidance.

If I can somehow find a way to push this "quest" in an effort to have anyone at Autel be reasonable, I will be pleased.
I know that I am not asking for the moon, just something reasonable.

Regards.
 

Brock Inspector

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Thank you for replying.
Precisely my main complaint. They understandably initiated the changes after experiencing V1 chip manufacturing difficulties but in their change plan failed to implement compatibility at any level and that is a complete lack of consideration of the customer base.
I too have been part of decision making groups in the past, specifically in the software / hardware engineering realm and there are always tough, cost based decisions to be made and those decisions will never be favorable to or with all.
What really rubs me wrong with this situation is that Autel completely ignores the fact that they could implement some type of program, anything that would show the smallest bit of loyalty to the customer base.

Agreed. I told them them that on the phone and email, nearly verbatim. Crickets...
I believe they have big dreams with no clear path of how to realistically achieve those dreams.
Autel is enviably #2 in market share. They may be able to stay in business through what has been an historic manufacturing/economic meltdown. I'd venture that many smaller drone manufacturers or undercapitalized ones with one or two flagship models that iterate less frequently will not survive it, even if they have great hardware, and would just about kill to be #2. Autel's chip problem was not entirely the fault of the worldwide silicon shortage. It was that the company Autel was procuring the Software Defined Radio chips from (for the V1 Evo II) was ZTE and they're on the list of companies the US government has decreed cannot be a supplier to military and gov't contractors (NDAA list), related to Chinese military control of such companies on this so-called Entities List. Autel was looking to further leverage not just Enterprise, but sales to US federal agencies, with the chip change. That part makes some sense. Not having developed another dual-controller, Live Deck binding chipset as the replacement, however, was totally nonsensical. Live Deck appeals to Incident Management Team leaders, command centers in trailers, agencies with oversight
 
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YuKay

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Never trust a company that wants to ban class actions. The only reason for doing so is that individuals are unlikely to have the time, cojones or the cash to fund a solo action. This wishful term of service only proves that Autel know they are guilty.
 
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herein2021

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Thank you all for replying, providing your experiences and adding context to this situation.
I was finding it difficult to believe that I was the only person in this situation and I am happy that I reached out for guidance.

If I can somehow find a way to push this "quest" in an effort to have anyone at Autel be reasonable, I will be pleased.
I know that I am not asking for the moon, just something reasonable.

Regards.

I still think you could be in a worse place where you have a $3000 brick. If I understand your post properly, technically all of your current Autel gear works fine, at a minimum I would say you will probably at least break even on your purchase within a few jobs. After that at least it will not be a total loss even if the drone itself does become a total loss. I always feel better about business purchases once I've at least broken even on the purchase.
 

mtaylor

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I still think you could be in a worse place where you have a $3000 brick. If I understand your post properly, technically all of your current Autel gear works fine, at a minimum I would say you will probably at least break even on your purchase within a few jobs. After that at least it will not be a total loss even if the drone itself does become a total loss. I always feel better about business purchases once I've at least broken even on the purchase.
You are correct in your assumption that the gear is functional because it is new, and though I agree with general idea of breaking even, nobody is in business to "break even", else they won't be in business for long.

Respectfully, I disagree with the thought process. The assumption here is that if I were able to charge at least 1K per job with no other costs considered, I could break even and that would be acceptable?

It is the principal of this situation and Autel's back turning that has me chapped, and that I soon may have new equipment that is no longer supported or potentially functional as a kit.
That is poor ROI and no business strives to operate in such a manner.

Autel's position on this is pure rubbish, but that is their right and mine to object.
It is how they handle this situation that defines what and who they are because they are comprised of humans.
 

herein2021

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You are correct in your assumption that the gear is functional because it is new, and though I agree with general idea of breaking even, nobody is in business to "break even", else they won't be in business for long.

Respectfully, I disagree with the thought process. The assumption here is that if I were able to charge at least 1K per job with no other costs considered, I could break even and that would be acceptable?

It is the principal of this situation and Autel's back turning that has me chapped, and that I soon may have new equipment that is no longer supported or potentially functional as a kit.
That is poor ROI and no business strives to operate in such a manner.

Autel's position on this is pure rubbish, but that is their right and mine to object.
It is how they handle this situation that defines what and who they are because they are comprised of humans.

Oh I agree, I am just saying it could be worse. Personally I've never needed or expected any warranty service since 2014 and every drone acquisition has paid for itself many times over.

I think we both already know how Autel is going to handle this and its going to involve leaving you high and dry.

LOL. Autel doesn't hang out and read this forum.

They actually do have an Autel employee @Blade Strike who they hired specifically to monitor forums like these in addition to other customer relations type duties and he may see this forum post and bring it to Autel's attention. @mtaylor you may even want to try sending @Blade Strike a PM to bring his attention to this thread. Autel has had a lot of churn in leadership lately though, so not sure if customer service is high on their priorities list at the moment.
 

YuKay

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...It is the principal of this situation and Autel's back turning that has me chapped, and that I soon may have new equipment that is no longer supported or potentially functional as a kit.
That is poor ROI and no business strives to operate in such a manner.

Autel's position on this is pure rubbish, but that is their right and mine to object.
It is how they handle this situation that defines what and who they are because they are comprised of humans.
I would certainly have reacted differently if Autel hadn't been so devious. Even today they are trying to hide this problem. I would be amazed if more than 1% of their site visitors ever find their way to the "Tips & Tricks" page where the announcement is hidden. In any event, that's a ridiculous/illogical place to post an announcement of this kind. At the very least it should be on their News page (also somewhat hard to find) and on every FAQ and Support page - and there should be a dedicated, easy-to-find support section for owners of v1 products.

Autel are obviously running scared - presumably because they can't afford to handle the problem in a legal, decent, honest way. They may even be on the point of going bust - which would be a tragedy for the prosumer drone industry. (Hobbyists buy these products too and they don't break even.)

It may well be true that the entire drone industry is run by cowboys from the Orient but if customers don't start holding them to account then things will never improve. For a start, more people should be putting the word out there.
 
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