Drone Harmony V. 0.5: New Plans, New Flight Logs and much more

August 17, 2017

We’ve released a new version of the Drone Harmony Mission Planner, and with it several new important features. We’ve added new capabilities that would appeal to both the professional and the recreational drone flier. In this post we will dive into these new features and include some teasers for the upcoming updates.

Two New Professional Missions: The Ellipse and Hull Scans

There are many ways to obtain sideways (oblique) shots of your scene with the Drone Harmony planner already: the Circle and Perimeter missions, to mention a few. In this new version we’ve included two new smart plans that add even more such capabilities: the Ellipse Scan and the Hull Scan.

The Ellipse Scan can be used to fly around one or more structures in the scene in an elliptic closed curve. The ellipse is automatically computed to best fit the captured shapes, and thus it is a great compromise between smooth flight and contour following for various cinematic use cases.

The Ellipse Scan: automatically fits the perfect smooth closed curve around your scene

The Hull Scan is also used to follow roughly the contour of any selected part of the scene. Unlike the Ellipse Scan, the hull scan fits the best possible convex polygon to the set of selected objects and uses it to generate the closed loop flight, as is shown in the example below.

The Hull Scan: automatically fits the perfect polygonal closed curve around your scene

As for the Perimeter and Circle plans, it is possible to control various important parameters of the generated Ellipse and Hull scans, such as altitude or image overlap.

Perimeter, Hull, Ellipse and Circle: A Comparison

It is instructive to compare all four missions discussed above on a single easy example, presented below. We use a single structure to include the Perimeter Scan in the comparison and we use no obstacles for simplicity and clarity.

Conceptually, the four plans can be sorted according to how well they follow the structures’ outline as follows: Perimeter, Hull, Ellipse and Circle, with Perimeter being the plan that is most accurate and Circle the one that is most approximate. All types of plans have ample applications, but it is natural to use Perimeter and Hull for inspection missions and Ellipse and Circle for more cinematographic applications.

Four New Cinematic Plans

Our mission catalog is growing and with it also our offering of automatic missions for the cinematography and real estate industries. In this version we’ve added four new flights that can be used to take breathtaking shots of structures, landscapes and more.

The Reveals

We added three flexible reveal plans: the Parabolic Reveal, Parabolic Reverse Reveal and the Horizontal Parabolic Reveal. All these plan types follow a smooth parabolic curve the sharpness of which can be easily controlled with a simple slider. The Parabolic reveal first rises up and then curves down to follow clean line in smooth forward flight. The Parabolic Reverse Reveal first flies forward and then curves to shoot up at a slanted angle. The Horizontal Parabolic Reveal flies to the side and then curves inwards towards a forward flight. You can use all three plans to shoot stunning cinematic reveals of the view above or around a structure, beyond the tree line etc.

A Parabolic Reveal
A Reverse Parabolic Reveal
A Horizontal Parabolic Reveal

The Panoramic Orbit

The Panoramic Orbit plan lets you automatically fly your drone along a circular, or elliptic path while taking footage facing outwards from the center of the flown shape. By flying a small circle up in the air you can, for example, make stunning panoramic shots of the surrounding. By flying longer elliptic curves you can make beautiful videos of curved tree lines, the stands of a stadium and more.

A Panoramic Orbit Flight can be used to capture smooth inside out contours and create panoramas

We’ve also made some of the existing plans better by adding the option to select a center point. This option is available for the Helix, Orbit and Panoramic Orbit flight plans, and lets you select the center of the shape independently from the takeoff and landing position.

As usual, we rely on your creativity to show us more use cases for the automatic plans we’ve added, and for ideas for the new plans to come.

Flight Logs

Flight logs are an important tool for both professional and recreational pilots, and they too are now part of Drone Harmony’s mission planner. The logs automatically store important flight information that can later be used for in-depth review of the performed flights, and perhaps more importantly as an important source of information in case of a malfunction or any other unexpected behavior. In fact, it is often required to present flight logs when filing an insurance claim for damage to the drone, or any third party property.

Flight logs are automatically generated for all flights and they can be exported, or deleted through the app. While in later versions we will add additional information to the flight logs, as well as integration with existing logging tools, the ones included in this update are more than sufficient for most professional use cases and for insurance.

Technically, the following information is now logged 10 times per second from the moment the drone is launched, during all flight states (including paused mode) and until the flight ends: Id, Time (seconds), Time (text), FlightMode, GpsCount, Latitude, Longitude, Altitude (meters), Altitude (feet), Home Latitude, Home Longitude, Home Distance (meters), Home Distance (feet), Battery Power (%), Battery Voltage, Battery Temperature (C), Velocity X (m/s), Velocity Y (m/s), Velocity Z (m/s), Speed (km/h), Speed (mph), Pitch, Roll, Yaw, Up Link Quality (%), Down Link Quality (%).

UI Improvements, Auto-Drone Centering

We’ve also made the Drone Harmony planner safer and more comfortable to use by adding more information to the flight dashboard (including distance to home position, battery status and RC signal strength). In addition, we’ve added the option to automatically center the map on the drone during flight, removing the need to manually pan the map.

For a complete list of all addition and improvements, see our release notes.