Why you should be using Drone Harmony with your DJI M300
June 16, 2022
Since its release, the DJI Matrice 300 has established itself as the go-to platform for high-end professional data acquisition. Its unmatched versatility, reliability and durability are second to none at its price point. Now it also has the perfect companion – the new Drone Harmony Mobile app.
The DJI M300 platform is the ultimate productivity machine. It boasts a large variety of proprietary and 3rd party payloads, a robust reliable frame, advanced obstacle avoidance features and an unprecedented flight time in its class. It also enables longer and safer automated missions than ever before owing to new advancements in the DJI SDK. Without a good software and workflow, however, this impressive machine remains just a tool in the toolbox, not reaching its full potential. Here are just a few examples for how Drone Harmony can multiply your productivity and increase your data quality, when combined with the M300 platform.
One of the most common use cases is that of high-detail, high-resolution inspections: fly around a complex 3D asset and capture a large number of perfectly framed high-resolution pictures with the H20T or P1 payloads.
Without Drone Harmony. You manually fly in the field between the different picture locations in an arbitrary order. Before every captured image you manually fly the drone to the next location, frame a shot and take a picture. Before you move on to the next shot, you need to keep track of what parts of the asset were already inspected.
With Drone Harmony. You plan a mission in Drone Harmony Web or Mobile, which includes all needed shots. You can plan and adjust the mission both in the office and in the field before you ever start the drone. The mission includes a safe and efficient flight trajectory between all needed shots and an exact, or rough framing of the camera at each shot. You then execute the mission automatically (if all shots are perfectly framed), or otherwise in Auto-fly & Manual Shoot Mode. This mode automates the flight between the consecutive shots and the rough framing of the shots. At each location, you only need to adjust the framing (change camera parameters / zoom in / adjust drone location slightly etc.). Once the picture is taken, Drone Harmony automatically flies the drone and frames the next shot, before handing over the controls back to you for framing adjustments. When you return to the office you review the flight visually in Drone Harmony Web. You see all relevant metadata, including the file names of the pictures at each shot location and use that to easily organize the data and plan follow-up captures.
Your net gain. You only spend time focusing on the data you need to capture by pre-planning your capture and slightly adjusting the framing of the shots where needed. No time is wasted flying manually, framing shots from scratch, organizing the capture, revisiting the site due to missed shots, or reviewing the capture metadata after the flight. You get better data faster.
Large-Scale or Complex Mapping
Several key attributes of the M300 make it ideally suited for mapping large or complex areas: its high endurance, powerful transmission system and the excellent P1 payload.
Without Drone Harmony. You partition the area into uniform, small parts and plan simple grid flights, or use terrain-aware flights using low-resolution SRTM data (low-accuracy, 30m terrain raster commonly used in terrain-aware grid missions) in each part. Any low-altitude flights or oblique shots have to be planned and captured manually. To eliminate gaps in the data you capture redundant data in the seams between grids or manual captures.
With Drone Harmony. You automatically plan a terrain-aware mission for the entire complex area using a base terrain layer of your choice, or using a high-resolution terrain layer provided by Drone Harmony. You execute the mission automatically in the field and use the multi-battery flight execution workflow if needed.
Your Net Gain. You collect better data using more accurate and higher-resolution custom base layers that you can visualize. You eliminate all redundancies and gaps in the data and reduce your time in the field by an order of magnitude. You obtain uniform data density in all parts of the mapped area, regardless of steepness, or complexity. Many data products you create from the collected raw data, such as orthomosaics and terrain / surface models, can also be imported into Drone Harmony for even better future captures.
The Smart Controller
DJI Smart Controllers are excellent companions to the drone due to their bright built-in screens and pre-installed DJI software. They have however, until recently, suffered from a serious drawback. As they are closed systems with a custom operating system and no Google Play Store to easily install new apps and services, they are notoriously difficult to use with 3rd party software. Only software that requires a bare minimum from an operating system could reliably be installed and run on Smart Controllers. The new Drone Harmony app is exactly that.
While it packs a bigger punch than ever before with regard to features and usability, the new app is also the leanest app we have ever developed in terms of its system requirements. Concretely, installing Drone Harmony on the Smart Controller is as easy as loading a file to the device and running it. The low requirements are also reflected in the usability and responsiveness of the app, allowing smooth operation and an unprecedented user experience on built-in devices.
DJI’s tendency of combining controllers with built-in screens continues with DJI’s newest announced products, the Matrice 30 and Mavic Mini 3 Pro, confirming a trend: In order for the software to be compatible with the high-end professional range of DJI’s drone lineup, it needs to be lightweight and flexible enough to run on Smart Controller-like Android devices (also, RC Pro, RC Plus etc.). We have designed Drone Harmony with this trend firmly in mind, wanting to give our customers tools that are future-proof and flexible with regard to the hardware setup.
Guillaume Jouvet, Senior researcher in the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich, uses Drone Harmony’s terrain-aware data acquisition for research, monitoring, and mapping of the motion of glaciers in Greenland and Switzerland. We were invited to talk with him. Guillaume, what is your research about? As a mathematician and a glaciologist, I’m working...
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