3D Robotics


Both Mission Planner and DroidPlanner have recently added features for simplifying aerial survey. These tools help take the guesswork out of mission planning with cameras onboard, taking pictures to be stitched into a mosaic. Rather than manually specifying a grid flight pattern, you can instead specify you camera, desired operational altitude, and triggering method. The survey tool takes care of the rest, and allows you to see the expected coverage as well as estimates of ground resolution, required number of pictures, and other statistics.


Survey is completely airframe independent and works for both copter and plane. By framing the mission planning problem in terms of aircraft operation and desired result, rather than the means to that result, planning is vastly simplified, repeatable, and easy to do in the field. 

Fly the camera, not the plane!

The current version of DroidPlanner now supports the following features in Survey:

  • Simple user interface
  • Multiple supported cameras
  • Real-time visualization of the flight plan
  • Projected camera footprint visualization
  • Calculated statistics, such as coverage area and mission length


The current version of Mission Planner now supports the following features in Survey:

  • Both simple and advanced user interfaces
  • Multiple supported cameras and custom camera definition
  • Automatic camera parameter identification by photo upload
  • Real-time visualization of the flight plan
  • Projected camera footprint visualization
  • Calculated statistics, such as coverage area and mission length
  • Trigger type selection and auto population of the distance-based trigger, CAM_TRIGG_DIST


This is the first of a series of posts explaining the end-to-end process of aerial survey, from planning to stitching.  The wiki will be updated with tutorials on 1) mission planning, 2) aircraft setup and operation, 3) camera control and 4) post-processing. And new features are always being added, so stay tuned!




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  • Developer

    1. the latest MP has the ability to split the mission. this creates one large mission with do jumps to the different starting points, with rtls at the end of each section,


    2. give the above, the idea is to have one large mission, with sub missions, that should archive your goal.


    3. in the green advanced options you can specify starting location


    4. after planning your initial pass, use control-s to save the grid format, for later usage and modifications.

  • Hi all

    I'm also interested in learning a few thing with mission planner.

    1. If I'm mapping a large area is it possible to have the plane resuming from the last way-point or at least from whee it left off? if not possible how can easily break the area?

    2. Can I display foot print of the already covered area in order to aid planning the next survey block?

    3.  How can change the lines easily i noticed that if I have one large rectangular area, mission planner creates the first line in the middle of the rectangle instead of one side of the rectangle, this happens if my home is near halfway from each end. I have attached a photo here and in red i have shown how i would want the plane to commence instead of the seen WP2

    4. If I have already created a nice mission plan, but I notice something  that I need to change, how d I re-enter mission planning interface where we setup the grid?

    Picture stored in public dropbox folder below I failed to attached.


    Good work Michael Oborne (if possible can I have a private discussion with you I would like to discuss a few customization issues if you can do for me, I willing to pay for it)

    Thanks all in advance

  • Developer

    what version of MP are you using.

  • I don't know the problem...but after I make a polygone to select an area to a Survey, I go to the auto WP menu and Survey Grid is not there. WHY?

    There is an option to check somewhere ?

    Thanks to help me.

  • That worked for me. Thanks a lot.

  • Yeah the white page seems to be a bug. A quick fix is to uncheck "Advanced Options" in the simple tab click "Accept", Clear that mission, Relaunch Survey Tool and now check "Advanced Options". That should bring the other tabs back from the white squall =)

  • Me too! Same issue.

  • Anyone else having the difficulty with Auto WP>Survey (Grid)>Advanced Options where the only tab that displays anything underneath is the "Simple" one? When I select any of the other tabs, I just get a white page underneath the tab with no content.... If anyone knows how I can fix this I would really appreciate it!

  • With Auto WP>Survey (Grid)>Advanced Options>Camera Config, make sure the values for sensor width and height are correct as they are not automatically derived when using Load Sample Photo. Here are a couple links to sites that list sensor width and heights for common sensor sizes:



  • 3D Robotics

    I dont know too much about the Panda, but all the 3DR products (APMPixhawk) do autonomous landing and takeoff on plane and copter.

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