DJI Mavic Air in Depth Series – Part 2 – Aircraft Safety

DJI Mavic Air in Depth Series – Part 2 – Aircraft Safety

Continuing our in-depth look at the Mavic Air, we will be looking at the built-in safety features to help keep the Mavic Air safe during flight. The Mavic Air is packed with safety features, helping those new to flying as well as experienced pilots, avoid incidents.

Flight safety features are present through FlightAutonomy 2.0, multiple redundancies of the key components of the drone and an advanced Return to Home (RTH) functionality. The features are the most advanced available on a consumer drone of this kind.

Keep reading to find out more about these functions and how they help to keep the Mavic Air safe.

Mavic Air Vision Systems


Specifications

Let’s have a look at the specifications of the Mavic Air’s Sensing System.

Sensing System

Forward

Precision Measurement Range: 0.5 – 12 m
Detectable Range: 0.5 – 24 m
Effective Sensing Speed: ≤ 8 m/s

Field of View (FOV): Horizontal 50°, Vertical ±19°

Backward

Precision Measurement Range: 0.5 – 10 m
Detectable Range: 0.5 – 20 m
Effective Sensing Speed: ≤ 8 m/s

Field of View (FOV): Horizontal 50°, Vertical ±19°

Downward

Altitude Range: 0.1 – 8 m

Operating Range: 0.5 – 30 m

Operating Environment

Forward:

Surface with clear pattern and adequate lighting (lux > 15)

Backwards:

Surface with clear pattern and adequate lighting (lux > 15)

Downward:

Detects clearly patterned surfaces with adequate lighting (lux>15) and diffuse reflectivity (>20%)


Sensing Systems

The Mavic Air features the high standard of sensors we have come to expect from DJI in their latest drones. Dual vision sensors give three directions of obstacle detection. These can be found in the front, rear and base of the Mavic Air. This number of vision sensors is the most advanced from DJI in the consumer side of their drones, especially at the low price point.

In addition to this the vision sensors, a downward infrared sensing system is in place as well as the use of the forward facing camera on the Mavic Air. These sensors work with a group of computing cores in the Mavic Air to help sense and avoid obstacles in flight and accurately identify the exact position of the Mavic Air.

All of these sensors work automatically in all modes except the Mavic Air’s Sport Mode.

Keep reading for additional safety features of the Mavic Air’s FlightAutonomy 2.0.


Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO)

The Mavic Air uses VIO systems to provide precision accuracy, aiding flight in complex environments and when flying indoors. Working between 0.5 to 30 meters, the VIO technology operates along with advance positioning algorithms inside the Mavic Air. The VIO calculates the real-time speed and attitude of the Mavic Air to accurately locate its exact position at all times.

The systems work when hovering or when flying at high speeds. Due to the VIO system, the Mavic Air will react quickly to controls it’s give with the remote controller or smartphone.

Mavic Air Flying Indoors


3D Map Building

Harnessing the power of the Mavic Air’s seven built-in cameras, infrared sensor and dual IMUs, the Mavic Air processes the information to create a 3D map of the surrounding terrain. The 3D map is used to assess the Mavic Airs’s location and increase flight safety in flights in all terrain.

The real-time map of the Mavic Air’s location helps it avoid obstacles and recognise the surrounding terrain.


Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS)

APAS is a brand new system incorporated in the Mavic Air to help pilots fly. Whilst the pilot moves the aircraft forwards or backwards with the controller,  APAS detects and avoids upcoming obstacles by flying around or over them.

This is achieved by using all of the Mavic Air’s sensors and the application of flight path calculations to detect a clear flight path for the Mavic Air. If a clear path cannot be detected, the drone will hover in place until further instruction is given. If the Mavic Air has stopped, you won’t be able to fly any closer to the obstacle whilst still in the mode.

APAS works when flying forwards or backwards, giving users more freedom with their flight whilst removing the worry of a potential crash.

APAS is a useful system for new pilots and advanced pilots flying in complex environments such as woodland areas. APAS is available for all Mavic Air users but may not come as standard in the Mavic Air’s menu in the DJI GO 4 app. If not available, you must be select the option under the advanced menu options. Once enabled, the option will appear on the left side of the menu as seen below:

APAS on DJI GO 4

Please Note – In order to use APAS, the Mavic Air must be used with a dedicated remote controller.

This feature is a valued addition to a drone aimed at the consumer level. It can help new pilots learn how to fly and build confidence until the controls become second nature.

Check out the gif of APAS in action below:

via GIPHY

From testing out APAS in action, it’s worth noting that it is hypersensitive to obstacles and may stop the Mavic Air from moving even if you think you’re free from danger. This may be a hindrance to some shots but you can have peace of mind that your flight will be incident free. This is especially beneficial for pilots learning how to fly, especially around obstacles.


Return to Home (RTH)

The RTH function is a great feature from DJI which brings the aircraft back to its designates home point when selected on the remote controller or smartphone, the battery level reaches a specified level or there’s interference with the aircraft’s signal. For the Mavic Air, the RTH system has been developed to improve its reliability and functionality resulting in the safest flight path during the RTH.

The Mavic Air records its flight path during flight in order to fly to the specified home point. The Mavic Air will also detect obstacles during the RTH and choose its route dependent on the presence of obstacles.

When landing during the RTH, the Mavic Air will compare the images taken of the ground during takeoff to the real-time images it receives. Additionally, further scanning will take place to identify any obstacle or water at the home point. If detected, the Mavic Air will hover and await instruction from the pilot.

The development of the RTH gives pilots the reassurance that even if the battery runs too low, the aircraft will return to their home point whilst actively avoiding obstacles.

Remember to set your desired home point before every flight and make sure you set the RTH at an appropriate time period that you’re comfortable with. These can be controlled through the DJI GO 4 app under.


Multiple Redundancies

The incorporation of multiple redundancies has recently been a common choice for DJI with their consumer and enterprise level aircraft. When it comes to the Mavic Air, this had to be done without compromising the light weight of the aircraft.

Dual IMU – DJI have added dual IMUs (Inertial Measurement Unit) which are used to measure the drone’s force, velocity and attitude. In basic terms, the IMU is responsible for maintaining accurate behaviour of the aircraft by regulating sensor readings. The dual IMUs help avoid incidents by ensuring information captured by the drone is correct. Incorporating dual IMUs has been a common choice for DJI with the majority of their drones due to increased accuracy it gives.

Dual Vision Compass – In addition to the IMUs, dual vision compasses are also built-in to the Mavic Air. The vision compass helps the Mavic Air’s navigation system evaluate the aircraft’s direction if it undergoes compass interference.

Multi-Stereo Vision – Dual stereo vision systems, help the aircraft position itself whenever there’s at least one direction of the vision sensor is operating normally. This increases the reliability of the Mavic Air by a huge amount.

Dual Sensor Fusion Algorithms – Two hardware platforms work with two sets of sensor fusion algorithms to help avoid error. This is done by automatically switching to the other set should an issue be encountered. This helps the drone’s functionality return to its normal operation as soon as possible.

The multiple redundancies are a significant improvement when compared to what DJI have previously put into their consumer drones. Element redundancy was not available for the Spark, so the Mavic Air is clearly a huge step up from this aircraft in terms of reliability and safety. The Mavic Air also builds on the systems incorporated in the Mavic Pro which only had dual IMUs and compasses, especially impressive considering the size and weight.

DJI Mavic Air in Flight


Summary

The Mavic Air has been packed full of safety features to help keep pilots of all experience levels safe during flight. It features the most advanced sensors for a drone made for the consumer market which are used in the various safety features like APAS, VIO and a developed RTH function.

Flight safety was clearly a leading factor for DJI whilst designing the Mavic Air, building on the systems incorporated into their existing products, and advancing them to a new level.

In the next edition of our in-depth series on the Mavic Air, we will be exploring the new features of the camera including its Intelligent Flight Modes.


To discuss the new DJI Mavic Air, or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at info@heliguy.com.


Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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