Drone technology – rapidly evolving

Last weekend I discovered that my DJI Phantom 4 PRO drone system is now recording audio. I nearly fell over in surprise when playing back a video of a creek and heard rainforest birds tweeting over the top of rushing water.

I hunted around the internet for mentions of this change, and found almost nothing. Just a few comments from people saying their drone has started recording sound, along with scoffing responses such as ‘as if, you must have been imagining it, the motors are far too noisy’.  Audio recording is a feature that snuck in with a recent software update and it’s the tablet used as a screen that records sound, not the drone itself. I just have to figure out how to get the recorded audio from my tablet onto my desktop computer.

But then again, why bother tearing my hair out – I’ve learned from experience that all you need to do is wait, and software will be improved automatically. Because if you have a problem, so will others.

Although ‘how to’ youtube videos are relatively new, we’re already used to them being available for whatever topic we need help with.

The very exciting thing about drones is that the hardware and software is evolving so rapidly that there’s a raft of things that just haven’t been discussed online.

You Google high and low and come up with – nothing.

Another relatively absent topic is drone GEO fencing, in relation to Australia  A recent DJI Phantom software update included zones (major airports etc) where drone flying is not permitted without specific permission.  If you’re in a solid red no-fly zone, the drone simply won’t lift off the ground. When visiting a remote area recently it was extremely frustrating to discover that in one place the drone wouldn’t budge because the nearby grass-covered cleared strip sprinkled with cattle was listed as a ‘registered airport’.  Way beyond mobile phone reception, I thought at least it could be sorted out without too much difficulty once I got back to a computer. But it would seem not; I’ve done a bit of searching and so far not discovered how Australians can get around this sort of error. (In the US, for example, drone pilots can turn off GEO fencing in a particular area for a short period in advance, eg 24 hours. But Australians just get a message stating that this isn’t an option in our country.)  Presumably there is a way to do it however as I’ll probably not need to sort it in the immediate future, again I’ll just play the waiting game by busying myself with other work.  When I search again in a few week’s time, there will probably be at least a couple of Australian online conversations about it.  Or  more software updates.  Uncontrolled drone flying has obvious safety issues so it seems inevitable that laws and software settings will tighten up – exasperating as it is for drone pilots who abide by laws and use commonsense.

Until buying a drone, I hadn’t realised just how practiced I have become at D.I.Y. problem-solving; having spent so many years living in rural and remote areas and running a one-person business.

Very much looking forward to attending the ‘She Flies’ Drone Instructor training in Brisbane in early June – I already have extra discussion topics for Catherine Ball and Karen Joyce.

Drone information blog posts

  • I’ve written a number of posts containing information I wish I could have found at the outset. The drone topics below are either not covered by anyone else at all, incompletely or inaccurately.
  • All the information in these posts is included in Rural Drone Academy training, to some degree, but with the addition of many other useful topics, entertaining examples, participant Q & A’s and networking.
  1. Rural Drone Academy workshops & training – want to lift your flying up to another level, solve some drone issues, or you need a hand to gets started? These workshops are useful for all skill levels, ages and backgrounds.
  2. Next workshops plus previous events – upcoming events you can attend. Previous events are also listed, which will give you an idea of the regions covered, themes and the diversity organisations hosting them.
  3. Comments from participants – forthright opinions from people who have attended drone sessions held in four states.
  4. The principles of drone safety & laws – essential reading for every drone pilot. Accompanied by impressive ‘fail’ stories, during Rural Drone Academy training.
  5. How to set up a drone business – how to steam ahead – use time, energy & money to maximum effect – and avoid pitfalls. Included in drone workshops in detail, if applicable to participant interests.
  6. What is the best drone to buy for a beginner?  Objective information to help you decide. The internet is full of drones that have hardly been flown because they didn’t suit the buyer’s purpose. Don’t join them!
  7. What is the best drone to buy? Comprehensive information on the most common consumer models to help drone pilots upgrading or seeking a drone for a specific task.
  8. Is a Crystal Sky screen worth buying?  The pros and cons compared to using phones and tablets as screens, from an objective point of view.

If you are interested in attending Rural Drone Academy training don’t hesitate to contact me by email or ring the business-hours phone number listed below.

PLEASE NOTE: As applies to the rest of this website – the content on this page is protected by copyright.  This post was originally written in 2017.

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