Best Obstacle Avoidance Drone:
Hey there, folks! If you’re venturing into the exciting world of drones, one feature you’ll want to get up to speed on is obstacle avoidance. But like anything in life, there’s more to it than meets the eye. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the fascinating realm of drones with obstacle avoidance, so you can confidently take to the skies.
Table of Contents:
What is Obstacle Avoidance on a Drone?
So, what exactly is obstacle avoidance? Well, it’s the drone’s built-in superpower that uses sensors to detect obstacles in its flight path. When an obstacle is detected, the drone either gracefully maneuvers around it or hovers in place if there’s no safe route to follow.
But, before you start thinking that it’s all smooth sailing, you need to understand its limitations.
Limitations of Drone Obstacle Avoidance
Obstacle avoidance is indeed a nifty feature, but it’s not all-encompassing. It won’t spot those fine obstacles like power lines or thin tree branches too well. Also, if you’re flying in tight, confined spaces, it can be a bit too cautious, leading to your drone just hanging in mid-air instead of taking your commands.
Why isn’t obstacle avoidance working on my drone?
If you’ve got obstacle avoidance on your drone but it seems like it’s taking a nap, here are a few things to consider:
First up, not all flight modes support obstacle avoidance. For example, in the DJI Mini 3 Pro, obstacle avoidance is a no-go in sport mode and some intelligent flight modes like Point of Interest and Parallel.
Obstacle avoidance sensors can be finicky when it comes to surfaces. They might not work as intended over single-color surfaces, highly reflective or transparent ones, water, moving surfaces, or in extreme lighting conditions. So, give your drone a simple backdrop to work with.
Dust and dirt can confuse the sensors, so make sure they’re clean and pristine.
Check the Lighting:
Your drone needs a bit of light to work its magic. If it’s too dark, it might struggle. Keep it above 100 lux for optimal performance.
Avoid places with ultrasonic devices emitting sound waves at 40kHz – they could interfere with your drone’s sensors.
And there you have it, a quick troubleshooting guide to get your obstacle avoidance back on track.
How does obstacle avoidance on a drone work?
Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how obstacle avoidance works. Drones use various types of sensors, often combining them for a more robust system.
Infrared (IR) Sensor:
These sensors detect changes in heat radiation, and they’re commonly used as motion detectors. They’re handy in thermal drone cameras.
Stereo and Monocular Vision:
Think of this as your drone’s version of having eyes. Stereo vision uses two sensors to create a 3D image, while monocular vision gets by with just one sensor.
These emit sound waves, and when those waves bounce back quickly, the drone knows an obstacle is close and adjusts its path accordingly.
There are other sensors like time of flight and LiDAR, but let’s not get too bogged down in the technical weeds – we’re here to fly drones, after all!
Types of Obstacle Avoidance on Drones
Obstacle avoidance systems can vary in their coverage, and it depends on the number and position of sensors. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Rarely used with drones, it usually means there’s a sensor on the bottom of the drone to maintain a set height above the ground. Think of it as a downward sensing system.
Bi-Directional Obstacle Avoidance:
This type senses objects both in front and beneath the drone, and it requires at least two sensors. The forward sensing system often has two sensors with an overlapping range.
Tri-Directional Obstacle Avoidance:
For the three-dimensional experience, this system detects obstacles in front, behind, and below the drone. However, it doesn’t cover lateral movement when circling objects.
Omni-Directional Obstacle Avoidance:
Despite the name, it doesn’t cover all directions – it’s more about 360-degree lateral field, upward, and downward vision systems. This is where the obstacle avoidance range nearly envelops the entire drone.
Which DJI drones have obstacle avoidance?
Now, the big question. If you’re thinking of getting a DJI drone with obstacle avoidance, most of them have got you covered. However, the more affordable models like the Mini SE and toy drones such as the Tello are the exceptions.
For those eager to dive into obstacle avoidance territory, here’s a list of DJI drones with this feature, sorted by increasing price:
1. DJI Mini 3 Pro:
This little fella boasts tri-directional obstacle avoidance, covering forward, backward, and underneath. A top pick if you ask me! This is the Best Obstacle Avoidance Drone 2023:
2. DJI Air Series:
The Air 2S may not have all its predecessors in production, but it comes with an infrared sensing system and multiple vision systems for obstacle avoidance.
3. DJI FPV Series:
Equipped with infrared sensing and vision systems, this FPV drone is all about speed and obstacle avoidance.
4. DJI Avatar Series:
The DJI Avatar drone doesn’t skimp on sensors, sporting two 3D infrared modules and two downward vision systems.
5. DJI Mavic Series:
When it comes to the Mavic drones, the Mavic Pro has forward and bottom sensors, while the Mavic 3 Classic takes it up a notch with omni-directional obstacle avoidance.
6. DJI Phantom Series:
Both the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro 2.0 come with forward, backward, side, and bottom sensors, ensuring a safe flight.
7. DJI Inspire Series:
The Inspire 2 drone offers front and bottom vision systems, two ultrasonic sensors, and two infrared modules on top. These are all active in certain flight modes.
Is obstacle avoidance on a drone worth it?
The million-dollar question – or should I say, the hundred-dollar question? If you’re a newbie to the drone game and you’re pondering whether obstacle avoidance is worth the extra bucks, here’s my two cents.
If you’re just starting out, consider a more budget-friendly drone like the Mini 2. Slap on some prop guards and practice your flying skills. The Mini 2 boasts better transmission than most cheaper drones and is a great training ground.
Obstacle avoidance, while awesome, isn’t foolproof, and you’ll likely have a few bumps along the way as you learn the ropes. It’s better to have these learning experiences with a $500 drone than a $1000 one.
And if you eventually decide to level up and invest in a drone with a higher-quality camera and obstacle avoidance, you can always sell your trusty Mini 2 on the second-hand market.
Wrap Up on Drones with Obstacle Avoidance
There you have it, the lowdown on drones with obstacle avoidance. Among the top contenders, we’ve got the Mavic 3 with its omni-directional obstacle avoidance and the Mini 3 with its versatile tri-directional system. But before you take flight, remember that obstacle avoidance, while impressive, has its limitations, so always fly safe and have fun exploring the skies!