I recently had the opportunity to set up a vehicle with the DroneDeploy Co-Pilot.  https://www.dronedeploy.com/

The integration was two very simple connections to the Pixhawk.  1) A 6pin to 6pin DF13 cable from the Co-Pilot to Telem2 on the Pixhawk.  2) A 5v lead from the Co-Pilot to a 5v BEC on the vehicle.

The benefit of this integration is two fold.  1) Fully autonomous control of different cameras over Wifi.  2) LTE cellular connectivity to transfer data from the payload to the cloud with low latency while in flight.  This enables mission planning, execution, real-time monitoring and post-flight analytics over a 4G cellular link to a web browser anywhere on the Internet.

There must be a safely pilot present to power up and push the arming button.  All other functions can be controlled from a remote browser.  The local safety pilot can override modes with the RC transmitter.  (tested!)
Here's the main dashboard where you start your missions.  Because of the high-bandwidth link, everything is updated in real-time.  For each completed mission, you can see how many pictures were taken and uploaded to the cloud, date, camera type...this data upload happens automatically while in flight.  Then you click on the blue maps button about 25 minutes after the flight to go to the map page.
The map page displays all 4 data outputs, including an embedded SketchFab view.  This is from a GoPro.  The camera control is done from the companion computer via WiFi to the GoPro Wifi App.  You only need to turn on the WiFi on the GoPro.  The WiFi did not produce any range issues with the redundant RC link.  Our next step is to begin resolution and quality comparisons with other cameras and other software tools.
There is also a very nice post flight analytics tool.

I must say that I'm impressed with the work from the team at DroneDeploy, and I look forward to their progress!


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Comment by Mike Winn on October 12, 2014 at 9:14pm

Thanks for the overview John!

Plug in a Nex 5 to get some super high quality maps created automatically. Just connect to the camera over wifi, and our copilot will handle the rest of the setup (shutter speed etc)

p.s. Unfortunately the images don't look like they're working yet.

Comment by Gary McCray on October 12, 2014 at 9:17pm

Hi John,

Great implementation,

But, the 5 inline images do not show up on my computer.

And I get a server error if I try to open them in a new tab.

Best Regards,


Comment by John C. on October 12, 2014 at 9:54pm

Thanks for the heads up!  I believe the images should be fixed now.


Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 12, 2014 at 10:58pm

Are there going to be issues with folks keeping the GoPro WiFi on and swamping the C2 link? Its a pity 4G is not happening in this corner of Africa quick. Perhaps you could team up with the Project Loon crowd to provide the 4G for me ;-) (not in any way selfish that eh) One of the balloons flew across here last month so I'm holding thumbs.

Comment by Jono on October 12, 2014 at 11:08pm

Hi Gary,

C2 for us is over telemetry cable to the copilot, and then over 4G. Fortunately, the FCC had forced WiFi, LTE and GPS to play exceptionally well together as they form the basis of comms for smartphones.


Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 12, 2014 at 11:28pm

I'm confused Jono, you have 2.4 running on the standard RC TX and potentially the GoPro at the same time?? All looks great though.

Comment by Dan Murray on October 13, 2014 at 4:36am

NDVI from a GoPro? What am I missing...?

Comment by Jono on October 13, 2014 at 7:36am
For standard visual imagery, the NDVI is a false colour, and not particularly useful (index wise) but it is quite possible to modify a GoPro to pick up NIR (http://agribotix.com/blog/2014/9/29/agribotixs-gopro-adventure and http://www.ir-pro.com/mini-camera-lenses/irpro-hybrid-ndvi-infrablu...)
Comment by Euan Ramsay on October 13, 2014 at 11:36am

That's a funky looking copter btw - who makes that?

Comment by John C. on October 13, 2014 at 1:35pm

@Euan - some hard working 3DR employees.  It's a joy to fly.


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