Cloud Raven GCS for 3DR Solo and Pixhawk

I've had the pleasure of beta testing a new Android based Mapping/VR/Modelling GCS for 3DR Solo.  In addition to Solo support it also supports both Pixhawk based fixed wing and multicopters.  DJI Phanton3/Inspire 1 compatibility is likely to follow.

It is refreshing to see a GCS for Pixhawk that is as easy to use as my Sensefly eBee, requiring zero piloting skills, and 100% flown using a tablet PC.  I recorded the above video yesterday during another test mission.  The only time I touched the RC controller was to turn it on and off, otherwise, the app armed the motors, flew the solo, landed it, disarmed the motors, and then Geo-tagged all the photos, ready for upload for map processing.

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  • Hai,


    When do you think it will be available for downloading it?. Can I try the Beta?.



  • Moderator

    @earthpatrol Both the sensefly ebee and the 3DR solo controlled using this app still have a fully functional RC controller. And both can be flown autonomously from start to finish using the GCS software and without touching the RC.

    The technical capability of the drone requiring zero piloting skills and not RC controller input and the philosophical position of whether an operator of such a drone should have the skills are two different issues.

    The reality is that drones is about removing the human element. There are probably people that think gyros and accelerometers are cheating and that every multi copter pilot should have manual RC heli skills.

    There is no doubt in my mind why drones like the eBee have become so popular for commercial aerial survey.

    I can see that this app is going to make aerial survey using a multi copter super easy that a surveyor can us it.

  • Thanks for your comments everyone. I will put up another post when the beta is open. 

    @Alexey - I agree the differences between drones is difficult to manage. Even with the APM:Copter/Plane platforms there are little things that can catch you out, such as the differences between geofencing and even how the default target airspeed is set for autonomous flight!

    @earthpatrol - I fully agree with your comments on manual control. Don't read too much into Hai's comments. Any of the existing GCS's allow you to fly without using the Tx with just the press of a few buttons. However, it's critical that the operator still knows how to fly.

    On this GCS, we have a pre-start check list that must pass before you can switch to Auto mode at takeoff. We might add a check item to remind the user to have the Tx close to hand before takeoff. We could also add a warning if the furthest waypoints are likely to be out of visual range (say beyond ~2km)?

    This is a bit of a philosophical issue for the industry as drones become more automated. How will pilots keep their manual flying skills up to scratch? 

    The Solo's relatively short range link normally means you are typically flying within visual range, but a fixed wing on an RFD900 serial link could easily fly many, many km.

    The app automatically creates and syncs a circular geofence whenever a new home location is set. The radius is user selectable, up to a maximum of 5km, which stops you getting too far away. Ultimately however, this has to come back to sensible operators with the right training.

  • I think it should be noted how critical that TX/RX is as a redundant control system. Statements like:

    "...requiring zero piloting skills, and 100% flown using a tablet PC."

    are a bit misleading.

    In fact, anyone flying like this better have already mastered their piloting skills so in the event of a flight anomaly, the pilot can take control with the TX/RX and keep the aircraft out of harms way. To that end, the flight should also be within line of sight when flying these types of missions. If you can't see it, you can't fly it. 

  • Very interested in testing this. I am in construction surveying and as a combination of available apps works OK for now, it would be nice to have everything all in the one specific tailored to surveying GCS.

  • Greetings from Texas

    I am willing to beta when it is an option. I am on wide ope  spaces here in  North texas so i can fly a lot.


  • Hi James, thanks. Yes, i'm from SPH Engineering, developer of UgCS. Your GS interface looks simple and clean. Now we are preparing new UgCS interface concept to combine power and flexibility of UgCS with more simple UI. It will be very interesting to see how will you solve in your UI differences between different drones commands, behavior, etc.

  • Thanks naish88, I've accepted your request, PM away :)
  • Hi James, I sent you a friendship request so I can PM you 

  • You can connect the app to the aircraft via a Serial radio (OTG USB or Bluetooth) or Wifi. I wouldn't try connecting directly to an RFD900 with OTG as the tablet probably won't be able to power it (especially if it's set to 1W). The normal 3DR radios are fine for OTG connection. 

    The Solo uses a Wifi connection which obviously simplifies things and allows for high quality video streaming as well. Showing a video stream window in this app is planned for future releases, but the Solo app does a fine job.

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