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Reply from Autel CEO Randall Warnas

DroneFlex

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The new CEO replied with speed and is intent on making the customer base happy and loyal to the brand. We will see how this all plays out.


“I appreciate you writing to me to give me more context to how this issue is impacting our customers. I understand where you are coming from, but I want to assure you that we are listening! We will not stop supporting you nor our customers.

You are right that with the chip shortage there is a limited quantity of Smart Controllers, and we hope that we can fulfill anyone who has pre ordered that still wants to go this route. As the version changes, we are discussing a trade-in program of some sort so that it won't be a complete loss if you decide to get a different airframe that the v2 controller is compatible with. As you know, I have not been in my Autel post long, but I am asking you to put your faith in me. You matter to me and what we're trying to do as a company.”
 

Eagle928

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Sounds like he's reading and listening to our thread on this matter.

 
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herein2021

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Maybe the problem is more complex than I imagine but I still don't see why an add in module is not an option. An add in module to make it backwards compatible with V1 when the chips become available would fix everything IMO. I have to imagine that the problem is far more complex than this.

I know nothing about RC controller circuitry but its possible that the chip they need is like the main CPU for a computer and integrated into that CPU is also parts of what is needed to interact with the radio transmission circuitry; similar to how modern desktop CPUs include GPU acceleration and audio.
 

Fishhead3

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I think its a good sign that he is engaged and we should give him time to settle in and make the changes needed. There is no doubt that Autel has not had a good bedside manner when it comes to customer service and some cultural change will probably be required within the business.
 
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mshmovie

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Maybe the problem is more complex than I imagine but I still don't see why an add in module is not an option. An add in module to make it backwards compatible with V1 when the chips become available would fix everything IMO. I have to imagine that the problem is far more complex than this.

I know nothing about RC controller circuitry but its possible that the chip they need is like the main CPU for a computer and integrated into that CPU is also parts of what is needed to interact with the radio transmission circuitry; similar to how modern desktop CPUs include GPU acceleration and audio.
The only things the socketed chip proposal poses as an are:
  • what to do with existing v1 and v2 design that's manufactured
  • does it require significant redesign to any of the molds (molds are expensive)
Other than that, I shared the idea as I enjoy it already on my Walkera radios running Devention and 4 in 1 radios swapped for the factory radio; it lets me use one radio to fly models from any of four protocols (which is very handy). There are other radio manufacturers that do this too going back quite a ways; DSM2 was available for FM ground radios as a module from Spektrum/Horizon Hobby bringing old radios new life - that is likely at least 16 years ago.
 

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Maybe the problem is more complex than I imagine but I still don't see why an add in module is not an option. An add in module to make it backwards compatible with V1 when the chips become available would fix everything IMO. I have to imagine that the problem is far more complex than this.

I know nothing about RC controller circuitry but its possible that the chip they need is like the main CPU for a computer and integrated into that CPU is also parts of what is needed to interact with the radio transmission circuitry; similar to how modern desktop CPUs include GPU acceleration and audio.
Warnas describes the nature of the sudden change having to do with the ZTE-supplied software defined radio (SDR) chipset pairs. ZTE is on the recently US-blacklisted list of 59 Chinese entities. Autel is making a clean break with ZTE SDR chips as a part of the path to NDAA compliance so that Autel Evo II's can be a viable government purchase. 60% of the thermal camera drones go to government and first responders. Unlikely that they'd socket the new chips to enable non-NDAA-compliant backward compatability.
 

Eagle928

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Warnas describes the nature of the sudden change having to do with the ZTE-supplied software defined radio (SDR) chipset pairs. ZTE is on the recently US-blacklisted list of 59 Chinese entities. Autel is making a clean break with ZTE SDR chips as a part of the path to NDAA compliance so that Autel Evo II's can be a viable government purchase. 60% of the thermal camera drones go to government and first responders. Unlikely that they'd socket the new chips to enable non-NDAA-compliant backward compatability.
Good catch. I didn't know ZTE was on the entity list. It does explain a lot as does the software/firmware controlling those chips. It sounds like it's much more than simply dialing in a specific frequency. I admit to ignorance on these chipsets and what makes them work the way they do.
 

charmin

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At least he seems to be interacting, thank you for that... however I still see it as short sighted business plan from the start with chip sets that were clearly susceptible to market needs, whether that be a political (USA embargo) or down to COVID or whatever, if some thought had been put into the design at the start something perhaps could have been done, I think it is to late now and to be honest anyone who says " all you need is a bit of software or firmware" has no clue to what really is needed, even if it were possible, after forty years in the business there is no such thing as "some software" so we are at his mercy. Perhaps a trade-in programme is practicable, but not good short term business sense, very costly, so I see it as unlikely when they get the calculator out, and to be honest to get the extra gains from the new chip doesn't really bother me, I'd rather have a much cheaper compatible V1 for my needs would be fine (perhaps discounted with V1 drone proof of purchase ) some will of course want the shiny new latest... still be orange though... ha-ha. It's a start.
 

wmaldridge

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The new CEO replied with speed and is intent on making the customer base happy and loyal to the brand. We will see how this all plays out.


“I appreciate you writing to me to give me more context to how this issue is impacting our customers. I understand where you are coming from, but I want to assure you that we are listening! We will not stop supporting you nor our customers.

You are right that with the chip shortage there is a limited quantity of Smart Controllers, and we hope that we can fulfill anyone who has pre ordered that still wants to go this route. As the version changes, we are discussing a trade-in program of some sort so that it won't be a complete loss if you decide to get a different airframe that the v2 controller is compatible with. As you know, I have not been in my Autel post long, but I am asking you to put your faith in me. You matter to me and what we're trying to do as a company.”
A trade in program is a must as the last notice was a sales killer and almost caused me to sell my Autel EVO II Pro and move over to DJI since the initial letter regarding the Smart Controller incompatibility was a brand show stopper for me. With todays digital and firmware designs it surprises me that a circuit board cannot be made to accommodate either chip revision with software. I've worked with ZTE in the Supply Chain on modems and it can be challenging sometimes. Signed: still loyal to Autel and standing by for the new pathway.
 

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Words, words and more words from the Ceo. Would you expect to hear anything else. The proof will be in the actions. Sorry for being pessimistic but I've been around to many years and seen many to disappointments along the way. We'll see what happens when the bean counters get involved.
 
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moodman

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Words, words and more words from the Ceo. Would you expect to hear anything else. The proof will be in the actions. Sorry for being pessimistic but I've been around to many years and seen many to disappointments along the way. We'll see what happens when the bean counters get involved.
I totally agree. Autel's CEO needs to understand something fundamentally important to its customer base. We are tired of words only. I own an Evo 1 (which has given me zero problems, BTW) However, the MOMENT the Evo 2 came along, Autel totally stopped updating the Evo 1 software, and there were some things that needed improvement. Essentially, with them stopping support, it meant that although there were things the Evo 1 could be capable of, IF they had fully developed the software, I as an Autel customer was just out of luck.
This soured me on Autel as a company, and there was no way I was going to buy the Evo 2 because from experience I foudn out what Autel does to its loyal customer base.So although the Evo 2 at the moment is a good bird, I will not be buying anything Autel unless I see more than words. I need to see commitment to customers for the long term. I think there are others who feel the way I do and it accounts for loss of sales
 
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mshmovie

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Words, words and more words from the Ceo. Would you expect to hear anything else. The proof will be in the actions. Sorry for being pessimistic but I've been around to many years and seen many to disappointments along the way. We'll see what happens when the bean counters get involved.
Valid point. Of course we will. I've seen, and still see, some massively stupid bean counter assertions that fail; a developer that's sourced in a less expensive location is not fungible (can't be instantly swapped) with a seasoned subject matter expert that's at the top of their game.

I hope Randall has the pull a CEO should. I feel he's sincere and can relate to what he shared.
 
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bluesti

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If you want a company to have a dialog with you, it’s fair to ask them to listen to what you have to say, but it helps if you listen to what they say as well.
Saying and doing are two entirely different things. As the CEO he could of said "I've done this.........I've initiated that........ .Instead he choose to say "I'm gunner do this....... I'm gunner look after my customers.
I'm afraid CEO's these day are just figure heads, decisions are made based on accounting principles, if it's not going to be profitable, don't do it or ditch it, which is basically what they've done.
 

mshmovie

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Saying and doing are two entirely different things. As the CEO he could of said "I've done this.........I've initiated that........ .Instead he choose to say "I'm gunner do this....... I'm gunner look after my customers.
I'm afraid CEO's these day are just figure heads, decisions are made based on accounting principles, if it's not going to be profitable, don't do it or ditch it, which is basically what they've done.
Perhaps. But perhaps the stated intent of Autel Robotics' new CEO, Randall, is sincere and he was brought on to differentiate Autel Robotics by listening to the customers and resellers instead of picking the option of selecting the main investor's son as the CEO?

It's a judgement call as to what factored into selecting Randall for his new role and whether the core values he seems to have shared in emails, in a post on this forum, and in an interview will be the essence of how he executes. I'm leaning optimistic and hope I'm not wrong; anyone's point of view can likely be backed by life experiences of similar situations where it's worked out or has not.

Current communications suggest doing right by people acquiring the V1 smart controller due to it not being all that was promised. If that is not done, it will reflect badly on Autel Robotics and be something that affects Randall's credibility in a career that has decades more to go. If it's well managed, it may cost a lot less than the impact of customer attrition and having to acquire the same market share it once had,. These likely factor into the thought process as to how this gets managed, directly impacts revenue, and profit for some time to come.
 
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