DroneDeploy Co-Pilot


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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  • I have the QU4D and its a great platform but if I could do it again, I wou have waited for the MAVRIK. It pretty much addresses everything that I would change about the QU4D and its not too much more expensive for what you get.

    My biggest complaint was getting at the insides, the MAVRIK makes that much easier. And the way that it mounts the gimbal and battery tray is a huge improvement.

    They are a great company, helped me a lot throughout my build and the quality of their product it top notch. If I had the money, I would probably buy everything that they sell.

    I use my QU4D as my upgrade to my IRIS and to learn how to do aerial photography. My IRIS is my X platform now. I'm using it to develop my tinkering skills and try things like the CoPilot system. I wouldn't put too much money into the IRIS if you are considering SteadiDrone. The IRIS is a good quad but mainly as a really good entry quad to me. I like having both and highly recommend the MAVRIK based on what I've seen with my QU4D.

    Make sure it's the kit too, my best learning experience and a better cost.

  • Thanks for that info John. I put a call into Drone Deploy and
    they are going to follow up with me next week.

    It looks like you use/know about StediDrones. 
    Which frame do you have and what are you using it for?
    I'm considering gutting my Iris early 2014 to build a more
    suitable platform for short range mapping.

    Any feedback would be awesome.

  • It's in limited production for testing. They call it the Explorer program, a limited amount of people are part of that program. Not sure if they are still taking requests but it was $300 to get a unit and start using it. Not sure what it'll be when they go to full production.
  • Very cool. I thought co-pilot was under beta still. Guess not.
    Do you know how much they are leasing or selling the co-pilot unit for?

  • @Doug - Those are 580kv swinging 14x4.8

  • @ John C.


    What size motors and props did you use on this build?

  • @Guy, thanks! I'll definitely look into those.

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

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

  • 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...)
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