UAV on the Amazon river


This article is extracted project report The UAV above Amazon River


A group of Chinese UAV enthusiasts vista the Indian tribe living in the far Amazon tropical rainforest. An encounter between two cultures takes place...

This unprecedented cultural event originates form a documentary of the same name initiated by a Chinese filmiest.

The origin of this event:

In 2000, a Chinese photographer Zhang Yanjun and his wife came to Brazil to screen Amazon River.

Having overcome countless difficulties and obstacles, they eventually travelled across the river. This adventure took 10 years and involved the participation of 83,000 Brazilian.

In 2009, the Resource magazine made a documentary named Travel Across, using the videos and images taken in the the same year, China Ministry of Culture held a Brazilian movie exhibition named The Charm of Culture for Zhang Yanjun couple.

Beijing Film Academy invited Zhang Yanjun for intellectual lecture; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences invited them to be directors of the Centre for Research on Brazil, among many other cases of cooperation.

In 2012, the Zhang couple set up a media company EDITORA RECURSO, producing documentaries, book and TV program in both China and Brazil. In March, the company held a press conference, in which Zhang released his timing plan The UAV above Amazon River.

The documentary The UAV above Amazon River is directed by EDITORA RECURSO, co-organized by China Documentary Research Center, Brazilian Aero Club and BeePHOTO company. The documentary will produce 20×30 minutes TV documentary and a large fort film atlas.


The UAV used should be electric powered multi-coper.

The copter should use open-source flight controller (for e.g., APM or PPZ). Only tri-copter, quad-copter, or Y6, X8 configuration are allowed. Endurance should be not less than 20 minutes. Flight modes should be stabilize or manual mode. Loiter, waypoint, flight route or flight in formation. Flight altitude should be form 30cm to 600m.

There will be 10 UAV enthusiasts participating.

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  • Hi again Yanjun Zhang,

    just to add, as I am a "poor" researcher, the idea is to keep the cost of this UAV as minimum as possible. So the quadcopter (or more H-Copter) was built from cheap materials (and also used materials actually). The idea is also to use the products (pictures and film) as a tools for public engagement in managing ecosystem (especially the local communities). As it's a cheap DIY H-copter, it doesn't look fancy at all :) , however ... it is already tested to fly following waypoints, loitering, return to launch etc. while also taking still pictures with "used" CANON camera with CHDK on. I am looking forward to operate this "river from above UAV" soon in Borneo. Hopefully this information is to some extent useful for you.

  • Hi Yanjun Zhang,

    Great (and challenging project) I guess. Somehow as a researcher dealing with social-ecological issues (mostly forest) in the tropics (Indonesia) I came across the same idea. Our research team has conducted a 1700 km trip along the Kapuas River in Borneo (not comparable to the length of Amazon river though). Lots of things are in the river (as you probably imagine) from the waste of many activities (i.e. mining, fertiliser from plantation) to illegal gold mining. I have built a DIY quadcopter and flying wing (thanks to all DIYdrones community and all the people behind the youtube vidoes on UAV) with APM that somehow tested here in Europe (where I am based now) and will be tested in Borneo very soon. This quad is designed to be able to carry a max 500 gram camera which I expect to be able to fly for around 20 minutes or so. I guess the condition will more or less similar with regards to GPS coverage etc.

    It would be wonderful if we can share how this multirotors work in such environment in particular covering "river". I will try to wrap up the research results once I am back.

    Best and warm regards

  • These articles are very good, this is what I need, thank you very much!

  • Also, see: Follow me: tethering a UAV .  Maybe an "electronic tether" will be useful in some places.

  • Yanjun Zhang,

    Look for "Google Translate" on pages of "Select Language" to change from English.

    a) Weight of camera and gimbal?  References: Camera gimbals; Remote piloting; Aerial mapping.

    b) See ConservationDrones for experience in tropical areas.

    c) DIY Drones members may have suggestions for the most reliable multirotor operation in tropical areas. (sorry, not my experience)

    Working in many languages must be difficult.

    Best wishes for your project!

  • This is a topic about UAVs and DIY, the film only record occurred.
    Amazons is the swamp, rivers and forests, Here is an animal home.
    We across the region use three years, on land and use of seaplanes and helicopters.

    We tested many excellent flight control system, DJI, MP2128multi Multi Rotor UAV Autopilot. Chose APM, Can be can have more customized, and more in line with DIY.

    Focus is on how to safely fly drones in the Amazon region, including:

    1. A reliable aircraft, features:
    - Longer hang time,
    - Remote control:
    - Long distance FPV system,
    - Resistant to turbulence, (do not rely on Aircraft weight),
    - Distance to keep at low altitude (use sensor with global shutter or other options),
    - Reliable calculation method for inertial navigation,
    - GPS mode automatically return (for Possible lucky flight)

    2. Redundant (Power and control system)

    3. To eliminate interference installation:
    - Power module,
    - Magnetic Interference,
    - Vibration,
    - Geography magnetic field,
    - Radio frequency.

    and more ......






  • Thank you very much! My English has many errors.
    My mother tongue is Chinese, and now have to use Portuguese, English, Indian, and more local languages ​​work.

  • Admin

    Interesting adventure,  looking forward to see/hear more about this.  Pls keep posting  us the updates/photos.

    How was the photo in the blog taken? 


  • Yanjun Zhang, Please excuse my possible translation errors:

    a) A team of 10, led by a EDITORA RECURSO, will be in Brazil.

    b) The team will be producing documentary films, videos, and books for audiences in China and Brazil.

    c) The film project (program) will be using a multicopter (tri-copter, quad-copter, or Y6, X8 configuration).

    d) The team needs a reliable system with a multicopter that can fly for 20 minutes and return.

    e) You would like suggestions for the most reliable system (a UAS).

    Yes? No?

  • This program is being executed, More information here. We are ready to unmanned aerial vehicles, Select the flight control, Installation and testing. We have purchased a good product, For example, 3DR's "APM", "PX4" and "Pixhawk". Amazonia is a complex geography and vegetation, Highly unstable GPS and climate, We need more air time and reliable flight control system, For the safe return of the aircraft.

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