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pyrozyme

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Greetings! Part of the reason for purchasing the Max was to test it at some of our underground mines for inspection and photogrammetric survey purposes. I've reached out to Autel with no response yet (~24 hours only), and was able to chat with Joe at Vertigo Drones for a while. I'm hoping the combination of the "no blind spots" and sonar/visual obstacle avoidance and AI navigation aspects will allow me to conduct some inspections in old workings (areas of the mine deemed unsafe for people to enter). Since this is probably the ultimate example of a "GPS Deprived" environment, and I'll be in spaces roughly 40' wide and tall, I'm looking for wisdom from anyone that's had experience doing anything similar, especially with the Max. Please consider this a general request for guidance on how not to immediately crash the drone. For these initial tests we'll have portable lighting, but I do intend to slowly darken the area to see how it handles it. Hopefully it isn't long before we can get a spotlight add-on. I'll be sure to follow up with my feedback on the experience as well.

Thank you!
 
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Greetings! Part of the reason for purchasing the Max was to test it at some of our underground mines for inspection and photogrammetric survey purposes. I've reached out to Autel with no response yet (~24 hours only), and was able to chat with Joe at Vertigo Drones for a while. I'm hoping the combination of the "no blind spots" and sonar/visual obstacle avoidance and AI navigation aspects will allow me to conduct some inspections in old workings (areas of the mine deemed unsafe for people to enter). Since this is probably the ultimate example of a "GPS Deprived" environment, and I'll be in spaces roughly 40' wide and tall, I'm looking for wisdom from anyone that's had experience doing anything similar, especially with the Max. Please consider this a general request for guidance on how not to immediately crash the drone. For these initial tests we'll have portable lighting, but I do intend to slowly darken the area to see how it handles it. Hopefully it isn't long before we can get a spotlight add-on. I'll be sure to follow up with my feedback on the experience as well.

Thank you!
Good Luck! Their standard copout is that OA is an assist and does not relieve the pilot of the responsibility of avoiding a crash onto something. Hard to get warranty support when OA is at fault. They declare pilot error when this happens.
 
None of Autel's drones are designed to operate in that environment. There is no indoor or GPS denied mode. OA is not designed for this and is not capable of path planning or course adjustments. It's not like a Skydio that does path planning and navigation with its sensors. Autel OA is merely to help you avoid accidentally bumping into something.

So using any Autel drone indoors or in a cave, you're a test pilot at your own risk. You'll be hand flying, hand stabilizing. It will drift laterally and vertically with the wind and pressure changes. Pilots experienced at hand flying (DJI Atti mode, ArduPilot Stabilize mode, drone racing, etc) would be able to do this just fine. If you do not have a lot of experience with this type of flight, learning on an $8,000 drone in a cave is very very bad idea.

Indoors is sketchy since there is no way to disable the GPS. It could lock onto a poor GPS signal causing it to wildly fly into walls. Not a problem in a cave, but illustrating my point that this is not something the drone was designed to do.

Good Luck! Their standard copout is that OA is an assist and does not relieve the pilot of the responsibility of avoiding a crash onto something. Hard to get warranty support when OA is at fault. They declare pilot error when this happens.
It's not a cop out. It is not designed, intended, advertised, or even remotely suggested that it could be used for navigation, path planning, or cave exploration. Autel customer support sucks and that has nothing to do with this matter. I realize that's all you can talk about for some reason, but you're connecting dots that don't connect.
 
None of Autel's drones are designed to operate in that environment. There is no indoor or GPS denied mode. OA is not designed for this and is not capable of path planning or course adjustments. It's not like a Skydio that does path planning and navigation with its sensors. Autel OA is merely to help you avoid accidentally bumping into something.

So using any Autel drone indoors or in a cave, you're a test pilot at your own risk. You'll be hand flying, hand stabilizing. It will drift laterally and vertically with the wind and pressure changes. Pilots experienced at hand flying (DJI Atti mode, ArduPilot Stabilize mode, drone racing, etc) would be able to do this just fine. If you do not have a lot of experience with this type of flight, learning on an $8,000 drone in a cave is very very bad idea.

Indoors is sketchy since there is no way to disable the GPS. It could lock onto a poor GPS signal causing it to wildly fly into walls. Not a problem in a cave, but illustrating my point that this is not something the drone was designed to do.


It's not a cop out. It is not designed, intended, advertised, or even remotely suggested that it could be used for navigation, path planning, or cave exploration. Autel customer support sucks and that has nothing to do with this matter. I realize that's all you can talk about for some reason, but you're connecting dots that don't connect.
Thanks for the thoughts! Been flying drones since long before they came with such things as GPS stabilization, so I'm going to at least turn it on and see how it goes. I am somewhat frustrated though because it was marketed as being able to function in GPS denied environments. I'm not so naïve as to think everything would go seamlessly underground, but my frustration came from Autel responding yesterday that flying while not in GNSS mode would void any warranty claim. All the weight put behind those optics as backup, I was hoping for a little more hope from them. I'm not worried about warranty... I was very explicit in explaining that I'm just trying to get a feel for how the drone would respond in that environment (P2P, your response was far better than theirs!). They just kind of fell back on "CYA" rather than trying to impart some technical knowledge. Thanks again! Tomorrow is the big day....
 
First test went pretty much as some expected. Basically no control, no visual assistance. It did fly though, contrary to what Autel told me. ATTI mode was a challenge but not horrible. Sensitivity of controls was pretty high. I reckon that "smooth" mode becomes irrelevant went in ATTI. I only flew for a few minutes though, and the part that really triggered panic was that it didn't seem to want to land. It went right to the ground within about an inch and then didn't want to touch. Even the bottom sensors didn't seem to do anything, which was the most surprising thing of the day. Anyhow, afraid to dip too much and let the prop drift into the ground and send it flying (pun slightly intended), I let it slow drift into a rock pillar and that made it stop. Haha. Prop swap isn't so bad. I'll think on it and perhaps put it up once more tomorrow.... At least long enough to try some photos.
 
Well, as a final update of sorts, I did fly a bunch more underground. The next flights went much better. Still touchy, but I had a better feel for what to expect, so even landing went a lot better for me. Didn't blow any props. Haha. While I'm still disappointed that visual guidance just completely shuts off when there's zero GPS, I was able to complete some great photogrammetric surveys. So, that at least means that the camera is good enough to take decent photos even when stability is low and lighting is limited. There's a plus at least!

If anyone knows why visual guidance disables without GPS, or how to perhaps work around that, I would love to hear it. I can light up the underworld to look like daylight, but if GPS is an absolute requirement, there's limited function for this drone in underground mining. With at least minimal visual guidance, I can justify a whole fleet of these... especially when there's s spotlight released. Thanks for any input!
 
If anyone knows why visual guidance disables without GPS, or how to perhaps work around that, I would love to hear it. I can light up the underworld to look like daylight, but if GPS is an absolute requirement, there's limited function for this drone in underground mining. With at least minimal visual guidance, I can justify a whole fleet of these... especially when there's s spotlight released. Thanks for any input!
Sensor fusion self-inflicted limitations. The firmware is coded to fuse GPS, IMU, ultrasonic, and visual sensor data to form an operational position and related obstructions. The reason visual doesn't work without GPS is simple. Autel did not spend the programmer labor time and effort to write additional code to operate without the GPS sensor data. It can be done, they just didn't. The logic I'm sure is that nothing else about the EVO is designed or intended to operate indoors or underground, so why "waste" the time and money making that one function do that.
 
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Sensor fusion self-inflicted limitations. The firmware is coded to fuse GPS, IMU, ultrasonic, and visual sensor data to form an operational position and related obstructions. The reason visual doesn't work without GPS is simple. Autel did not spend the programmer labor time and effort to write additional code to operate without the GPS sensor data. It can be done, they just didn't. The logic I'm sure is that nothing else about the EVO is designed or intended to operate indoors or underground, so why "waste" the time and money making that one function do that.
Thanks for more knowledge. Bummer though. Out of curiosity, when they market it as having "Navigation in GPS Denied Environements", any idea what are they referencing? lol.
 
Out of curiosity, when they market it as having "Navigation in GPS Denied Environements", any idea what are they referencing? lol.
They're vaguely referencing the functions that actually do work in those circumstances. You'll notice they did not specify what capabilities it has and doesn't have in such circumstances.
 
If the sensors are working and the mm hmm radar and IMU is good you don't need GPS.
As the specs say hmm yes it should be able to follow a mission blindly in the dark and no GPS but need some mission planning, way in and out. :)
But as we seen with Autel software is their weakest point and I'm sure they wont use their hardware potential as always. They like to make cool hardware but no software to support it but hmm, they got SDK so make our own software, hmmm nah don't have time, more fun to fly :)
 
If the sensors are working and the mm hmm radar and IMU is good you don't need GPS.
As the specs say hmm yes it should be able to follow a mission blindly in the dark and no GPS but need some mission planning, way in and out
Mission planning and route navigation without position data using only collision avoidance sensors in a cave? I'm sorry but your expectations are vastly out of sync with reality.
 
If the sensors are working and the mm hmm radar and IMU is good you don't need GPS.
As the specs say hmm yes it should be able to follow a mission blindly in the dark and no GPS but need some mission planning, way in and out. :)
But as we seen with Autel software is their weakest point and I'm sure they wont use their hardware potential as always. They like to make cool hardware but no software to support it but hmm, they got SDK so make our own software, hmmm nah don't have time, more fun to fly :)
Why not use LIDAR ? I doubt very seriously that the final photogrammetric deliverables will even come close to a LIDAR scan.

I would rather spend my $$ on LIDAR instead of a fleet of MAX4T's

 
Mission planning and route navigation without position data using only collision avoidance sensors in a cave? I'm sorry but your expectations are vastly out of sync with reality.
I did not say "Only collision avoidance sensors" First is a good IMU like Inertial Sensors - Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) | LORD Sensing Systems,
Now how good is the IMU ?
The radar will keep you from hitting anything but if its accurate, yes basically as you can use Lidar and you have a map layout it will could help the IMU with location information with the distance readings from the walls, roof, floor of the room you are in etc. Now I'm sure you are not going to fly in pitch dark but...

It's basic dead reckoning.
 
You can keep making up things it should be able to do that it can't do. It still can't and won't do it. The Autel Evo 2 is not equipped with hardware designed, intended, or capable of handling navigation or mission waypoints without an accurate GPS position fused into it. The IMU cannot do enough for long enough without supplemental position data, which none of the sensors on the Evo can provide. It certainly doesn't have a $30,000 lidar built into it. It does not have visual navigation and course planning like the Skydio for example. The sensors are only capable of collision avoidance assistance and downward visual landing positioning. What you want is a completely different drone equipped with a lot more hardware at a much higher price.
 
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Why not use LIDAR ? I doubt very seriously that the final photogrammetric deliverables will even come close to a LIDAR scan.

I would rather spend my $$ on LIDAR instead of a fleet of MAX4T's

Lidar solutions that would work in that environment are significantly more expensive. The benefit of this particular drone beyond cost (if it could be position-stable underground) is that we already use some very extensive photogrammetric survey software in place, so it's an easy addition to current tools. Keep in mind, we're not just taking readings of the locations of surfaces (modeling)... we need to see what what that surface looks like (geology). On top of that, it could potentially aid in mine rescue operations with the visuals and the thermal options.

@pedals2paddles the only defense I can offer to what seem to be unrealistic expectations is that Autel literally claims that it can "Navigate in GPS Denied Environments". I'm still dying to know what sort of environment they mean by that... Other than that, I definitely understand where you're coming from. Put simply, if the Max could just "see" as little as 15 ft and use that data to stay in place when the fingers are off the sticks, that would be plenty to get a lot of things accomplished without worry about drone destruction. It's just one little request... :)
 
I own an Evo Max 4T. Pretty good drone. However, I think the software is severely lacking. For instance, I am unable to choose 900/ 2.4/ 5.8ghz to use with my custom 2.4ghz amplifier antenna setup.

Also, they advertise a non-GPS return to home. I wonder how that works. It can return to home only using the vision sensors?
 
I own an Evo Max 4T. Pretty good drone. However, I think the software is severely lacking. For instance, I am unable to choose 900/ 2.4/ 5.8ghz to use with my custom 2.4ghz amplifier antenna setup.

Also, they advertise a non-GPS return to home. I wonder how that works. It can return to home only using the vision sensors?
It doesn't navigate without GPS and it doesn't hold position stable without GPS. It literally disables backup sensors when there is no GPS signal. Welcome to disappointment.
 
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