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Orangutan39

Major Pix4D Issues

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Hello everyone, 

I had a major issue today while using Pix4D during a commercial UAS operation today and I want to see if anyone in the forum had knowledge as to why my issue happened. My UAS company is currently subcontracting for another UAS company. We are currently working a large scale (10 nautical mile) 2D Pix4D mapping and Litchi video project of a small river to find ways to prevent flooding issues. The project will have 46 Pix4D flights when we are done.  The aircraft that we are using with Pix4D are his DJI Matrice 100 (M-100) and my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. We are using the iPad air tablet.  We almost lost the M-100 today.

The issue is the following: I upload the flight plan and the program indicates I am good to launch the flight.  Before the flight I close out all other background programs on the iPad, including the DJI Go App.  At some point in time during the flight with Pix4D, the iPad fully crashes and shuts down. At this point I have no screen with no indications or warnings that there was an issue. 

Two weeks ago I did a cold weather flight test with another M-100 and noticed this issue right after takeoff while using Pix4D.  I was able to land and tried restarting everything (iPad, controller, & M-100), but the issue continued. This M-100 worked fine in DJI Go App, but later had to be grounded due to other issues. 

Today mid flight, the second M-100 did the same thing. I noticed that the M-100 continued its programmed flight path and we think that it kept taking pictures based on what we saw when uploaded the SD card to the laptop we had with us. I was able to bring the aircraft back without the iPad. We changed out batteries and did a restart. The next flight went fine with no issues and over 150 photos taken. 

During the following flight the iPad crashed again. I tried restarting the iPad while the M-100 was still in the air, but Pix4D continued to fully crash the iPad. I even tried to restart and go into the DJI Go app, but the iPad crashed again.  I noticed that the M-100 was not acting normal and was starting to go way off course. I spent the next few minutes significantly fighting with the controls. I was having extreme difficulty trying to control back of the aircraft. I activated the RTH button 3 times, but nothing. I was finally able to get it back after a lot of struggles with the controls. 

I have no idea why this happened, but wanted to see if anyone else had this issue.  My Phantom 4 Pro worked mostly ok with the program, but on two flights it did not take any photos which wasted two batteries. I am not impressed with Pix4D so far. For as much as they charge for their services, I shouldn't have to worry about losing an aircraft. We are thinking about switching to Drone Deploy. 

Thanks, 

Chris 

 

 

 

Edited by Orangutan39

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Chris, 

I cannot comment on Pix4d Capture in particular, but you have a lot of variables to wade through.

You said an ipad Air.  I hope you mean an Air2 ?

Have you used Pix4d capture on that craft with that tablet in the past without issue?  How many times?

What FW is on the craft and what version of Pix4d capture.  

I have used Map Pilot many times and Drone Deploy a fair amount of times with an ipad Air2.  But not on an M100.  You may want to check in on the pix4d forum.  You can use any capture app and still use Pix4dmapper if that is what  you plan to use to process.

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Dave, 

Thanks for response. I completed the latest firmware, IOS, and Pix4D updates a few days before we went out on this mission. I did some additional research after posting my original post here and found three other forums, including a Pix4D forum, where people indicated that this is a problem with a variety of different DJI products (Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic) and several different iPad models. There was nothing about the M-100, but the issues were exactly the same with the other aircraft.

I think there is a disconnect somewhere between the DJI software, the IOS software, and the Pix4D software. Since we are all launching aircraft into the national airspace system when we do UAS missions, I would think they would want to iron out any bugs prior giving users the ok to use the updated apps.  We use Foreflight for airspace and airport information and they always send out an email telling users to wait until they fully test new IOS updates with their app to make sure that everything is working. They send another email when they determine that it is ok to use the updated IOS with their app.  As the pilot in command, I should be able to trust the program when it indicates that everything is functional and that it is ok to fly. I also hate that I can't have DJI Go running in the background so I can switch to that in emergencies, but that is a moot point if the iPad fully crashes.

Anyways, thanks for reading. Hopefully they can get this figured out soon. 

Thanks, 

Chris 

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You make some good points about the importance of being able to trust the drone.  As a surveyor or civil engineer you also need to be able to trust the accuracy of the data you deliver.  How can you achieve that with a drone company who’s constantly changing their products?

There are a lot of variables involved in collecting aerial data and it’s in how we manage the nuances of those variables that ensures the accuracy of the data, especially on such a large project.  There’s nothing worse that getting the data in the can, processing it that produces a great orthomosiac only to find that it’s considerably off in various areas when you ground truth it.  

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.  

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Chris,

I have tried all of the pilot apps out there and concluded that the  Mapsmadeasy Pilot app is the most flexible and reliable.  I did a very large project this year (about 7000 acres) and used the MME pilot app with Terrain Awareness, Linear missions, Basemap Caching for Offline Operations and Saved Missions.  It took a week to fly using 2 Phantom 4's.  We had no issues with any mission (24 in all) and the ability to recall a saved mission and fly it was a huge time saver and assured us we were flying exactly what we needed.  If you're interested, here's a video showing the finished project (processed by Pix4D): https://vimeo.com/220390263

Tom

 

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Tom,

Nice job.  We did a project that was 2ooo acres with DroneDeploy and Pix4D, the point cloud looked great but was off considerably when compared to previous ground based surveys.  Did you have previous ground based surveys to compare against?  If so how accurate was the aerial scan?  

Also, did you process this yourself?  If so how long did it take?  If not, how much did it cost?  

Thanks

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Hey boys,

Let me start by saying that I feel your pain. Not a good feeling when you loose contact with your bird.

I've experienced this same issue in the past and through my research, I discovered that the shear amount of data that's being crunched in real time during flight was heating up the iPad so much that the processor was shutting off, as to not fry itself. The issue of shutting down I was having was with the Maps Made Easy pilot app. I've came to trust this pilot app above all others due to its capabilities for large multiflight missions, grid missions, linear missions (would work great for your river project), and terrain awareness. After careful consideration, I decided to drop the $800 on the new iPad Pro that came out earlier this year. Since then, I haven't experienced this issue. The iPad Pro is much better suited for this type of data processing.

I hate to say it, but I'd get a new iPad Pro. 

Best of luck, and safe flyin boys!

Edited by TLG Dan Inloes

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@Tom Inloes

Thanks for this information. I liked the video of project that you showed. We tried Drone Deploy for the first time this last weekend. I liked it but found some issues with it as well. I will give Maps Made Easy a try too. Right after I told the guy that hired me that the Drone Deploy app was great, we had connectivity issues and I had to bring the M-100 back. The unfortunate part about our project is that there are high tension electrical lines nearby, so I am unsure how much that could be impacting things as well.  

@TLG Dan Inloes

I am not sure how old the iPad Air is that we are using, but we have a new iPad mini 4 that we were using for the Litchi video flights, but I may use that for mapping to see if it is any faster and cuts down on the issues. Otherwise I will have to convince the guy that''s hired me to buy an iPad Pro.  Thanks for the info. 

Chris 

 

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Quote

 

Did you have previous ground based surveys to compare against?  If so how accurate was the aerial scan?  

Also, did you process this yourself?  If so how long did it take?  If not, how much did it cost?  

 

We had 126 GCP's, all located with survey grade GPS.  I did process all of the data myself (took about a week using 2 computers running 24 hours a day).  The most important final product was a Civil 3D surface.  The final surface elevation was compared to the GCP elevations - and another 60+ ground truthing points.  The average difference was less that 0.4'.  The client (an engineering /  survey firm) was very happy with the results.  They designed a new access road leading to a gold mine using the surface we delivered.

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44 minutes ago, Tom Inloes said:

We had 126 GCP's, all located with survey grade GPS.  I did process all of the data myself (took about a week using 2 computers running 24 hours a day).  The most important final product was a Civil 3D surface.  The final surface elevation was compared to the GCP elevations - and another 60+ ground truthing points.  The average difference was less that 0.4'.  The client (an engineering /  survey firm) was very happy with the results.  They designed a new access road leading to a gold mine using the surface we delivered.

How many images did you process. To get the right overlap  2000 acres produced a rediculous number of images.  We sent them to Pix4D to process and it took two months - I think they were using two networked Nintendo’s as a render farm (that’s a joke)..

For those who might be interested this sort of discussion is starting to happen more.  At the moment not sure what to make of it:

http://forum.dronedeploy.com/t/ordered-to-quit-offering-all-mapping-services-from-ca-board-of-surveyors/7931

Anyone interested in starting a thread to discuss this?

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3 hours ago, Av8Chuck said:

Anyone interested in starting a thread to discuss this?

Only if we can get an attorney or someone who has actually consulted with an attorney on this. Otherwise it's just another of many.

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Maybe!?  I don’t see this is as a legal issue but more of a licensing and certification of the data issue.  

I don’t think surveyors are opposed to using drones in their work as long as the aerial solution can provide verifiable-certifiable results. There are too many drone manufacturers, users, and data companies like DroneDeploy making to many claims of accuracy that can’t be substantiated.  At least to the level that this article points out.

These companies are focused on proving the accuracy of their product/service only in support of making a sale to an operator.  They need to be able to prove the level of accuracy to the governing body of the people responsible for certifying the data. The entire value-chain or chain-of-evidence.  

I’m surprised it’s taken this long to get to this point.  Of coarse it doesn’t surprise me that California was the first to bring this up...

 

 

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Actually it's old news for me. A couple of years ago I reached out to local surveyors in my area to see if they were interested in collaborating to see if uas could be a tool in there toolbox. To my surprise they were more interested in telling me that I couldn't do any kind of mapping or modeling as has been discussed elsewhere because I was not a licensed surveyor. 

You must be a licensed surveyor in the state of Washington to advertise serving services. I do not advertise surveying services but I do advertise aerial imaging for use in construction. They felt that that to was in violation of State law. I responded that I will wait to be contacted by the state attorney general. I haven't heard anything since but yes, it will come down to a legal interpretation of state law in my case and all similar cases.

That is why I said that discussion about what we think doesn't mean much.  My opinion. 

And since I have a big target on my back with the  local surveyors I would have expected to hear from the attorney general by now but have not.

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I get what your saying, which in an odd way is why I think this could be a valuable discussion topic. 

Too many people think that they buy a drone, get a 107, hang out a shingle, use DroneDeploy and their in the surveying business.  They think that in large part because that’s what DroneDeploy, 3DR/SiteScan, and others tell them.  

There’s probably a lot of aerial data that might be useful to civil engineers and surveyors that doesn’t need to be certified so it’s questionable whether it needs to collected by a licensed surveyer. 

So discussions like these could be helpful for people who are starting out to understand how you might approach marketing your services, developing a business that could provide certified survey data etc..  

 

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Sure.  I'm not opposed to a discussion. My comment was more to the question of can a non-lic. surveyor offer other services not requiring a "stamp" and specifically supplied with a disclaimer that it is to be used at one's own risk due to the operation not being licensed. 

My local surveyors,  one of which is a past president of the state surveyor assoc., is of the opinion that almost anything that has to do with analyzing topography can only be supplied by a surveyor.  I told him straight up that I did not agree and that state law exists for the purpose of protecting the public from physical and financial harm.  Not to protect what surveyors have been highly paid to do in the past, but can now be done (to various degrees) by unlicensed, but skilled non-surveyors.  I mentioned challenging his opinion with telling him to contact the attorney general if he thought the public was at risk from my operation.  I literally said exactly that.

On the other hand,  you are correct that we can possibly help new pilots navigate this to some degree.  And as you said, point out that accuracy in geodetics is not some magic software and drone.  It includes those things,  but of course a whole lot more.

See....now we're discussing it and it should probably have it's own thread ! 

Edited by Dave Pitman

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On 12/16/2017 at 10:48 AM, Tom Inloes said:

  If you're interested, here's a video showing the finished project (processed by Pix4D): https://vimeo.com/220390263

Tom

 

Tom,

Thanks for posting a link to your TCI Corridor Project video. You have obviously performed and delivered a very involved state of the art project for applying drone based aerial survey/mapping technology. Congratulations on completing and sharing with us the details of this project.

Michael Watson

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On 12/10/2017 at 9:15 PM, Orangutan39 said:

Hello everyone, 

I had a major issue today while using Pix4D during a commercial UAS operation today and I want to see if anyone in the forum had knowledge as to why my issue happened. My UAS company is currently subcontracting for another UAS company. We are currently working a large scale (10 nautical mile) 2D Pix4D mapping and Litchi video project of a small river to find ways to prevent flooding issues. The project will have 46 Pix4D flights when we are done.  The aircraft that we are using with Pix4D are his DJI Matrice 100 (M-100) and my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. We are using the iPad air tablet.  We almost lost the M-100 today.

The issue is the following: I upload the flight plan and the program indicates I am good to launch the flight.  Before the flight I close out all other background programs on the iPad, including the DJI Go App.  At some point in time during the flight with Pix4D, the iPad fully crashes and shuts down. At this point I have no screen with no indications or warnings that there was an issue. 

Two weeks ago I did a cold weather flight test with another M-100 and noticed this issue right after takeoff while using Pix4D.  I was able to land and tried restarting everything (iPad, controller, & M-100), but the issue continued. This M-100 worked fine in DJI Go App, but later had to be grounded due to other issues. 

Today mid flight, the second M-100 did the same thing. I noticed that the M-100 continued its programmed flight path and we think that it kept taking pictures based on what we saw when uploaded the SD card to the laptop we had with us. I was able to bring the aircraft back without the iPad. We changed out batteries and did a restart. The next flight went fine with no issues and over 150 photos taken. 

During the following flight the iPad crashed again. I tried restarting the iPad while the M-100 was still in the air, but Pix4D continued to fully crash the iPad. I even tried to restart and go into the DJI Go app, but the iPad crashed again.  I noticed that the M-100 was not acting normal and was starting to go way off course. I spent the next few minutes significantly fighting with the controls. I was having extreme difficulty trying to control back of the aircraft. I activated the RTH button 3 times, but nothing. I was finally able to get it back after a lot of struggles with the controls. 

I have no idea why this happened, but wanted to see if anyone else had this issue.  My Phantom 4 Pro worked mostly ok with the program, but on two flights it did not take any photos which wasted two batteries. I am not impressed with Pix4D so far. For as much as they charge for their services, I shouldn't have to worry about losing an aircraft. We are thinking about switching to Drone Deploy. 

Thanks, 

Chris 

 

Chris,

I would also suggest upgrading your iPad. I too had an iPad Air (thought it was an Air2) and an iPad Mini2 but the CPU in these "older" machines just can't handle the latest updates from DJI, Apple and some of the third party apps we use. I've had DroneDeploy crash my Mini2 mid-flight and it didn't take all the photos it supposed to on the mission. It wasn't too cold so I don't blame it on weather. Recently I was flying in temp's in the single digits and teens which caused my iPad Mini2 and Air to shut down. Once, my P4P, using the GoApp started to invert the gimbal, which recorded that way. I broke down and bought a new iPad Pro 10.5 with A10X processor with the hope it will eliminate my crashing issues. Flew this week in the teens with no problems what so ever so I'm hopeful.

John

 

On 12/10/2017 at 9:15 PM, Orangutan39 said:

 

 

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