Recommended Posts

The Autel X-Star Premium seems to be some pretty stiff competition for the DJI P3 & P4 products. Autel Robotics is an established high tech company and many of the reviews on youtube posted by VERY experienced drone addicts claim it is one of the best values in camera drones now available. Many long time DJI P3 & P4 flyers have been surprised by how strongly it compares and exceeds DJI P3 & P4. In fact one very serious drone guy tested the best drone cameras in 2016, ( http://www.fpvguy.com/2016/06/top-camera-drone-shoot-out.html ) and it has been rated as the top 4K camera currently on the market. The Yuneec with recently upgraded lens seems to be the closest competitor ( they are all good). I have yet to see a negative review and in fact the auto pilot software is very similar to DJI in features. But hey what do I know? Answer is very little since i am currently a wannabe pilot, never owned or flown a drone - YET! So I am scouring the marketplace to see how far I can stretch my dollars. Since I do have a nice 4K TV it would be nice to see some beautiful 4K pics and video too.

I am curious to see if any of our pilots also have similar positive experiences?

Autel corporate website

https://www.autelrobotics.com/

New bulletin board for owners.

http://autelxpilots.com/

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @Drone Driver, I made a similar post last week in the pilot's lounge regarding Autel Robotics. As mentioned there until now I have been building my own UAVs but just started to consider getting one ready built and the reviews of the Autel X-Star Premium got my attention. I too was hoping other in the forum had purchased one and could provide some feedback.

Edited by Spitfire76
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add one thing I do like about the X Star Premium is the ability to simply remove the camera gimbal which allows for future upgrades. The thing I don't like is the lack of a SDK to use and development 3rd party apps. I am still tempted to get one though instead of a DJI as they are currently reimbursing the $150 for the aeronautical knowledge test which effectively brings the price down to $749!.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SDK availability is key to software interface both at the chip component level and to set specifications for how these components share the data flow or add new sensor etc. So the Real Time Operating System is usually where these software driver interfaces are used and control how all of the different hardware components will share their data and what to do as a result of that data, resulting in real time flight control and comm link control.. However this RTOS kernel also specifies how their component selection provides the ability for software engineers to communicate with the aircraft and present the collected data ( pictures, spectral analysis, FLIR, flight control instructions etc.) to the pilot and or end user application.

That is my current level of understanding on drone SDK interface specification, the actual guidelines on how to get data into and out of the aircraft sometimes including firmware upgrades. So Autel has a proprietary interface spec that they have not fully released to the public. This might be to protect their IP as this company has designed silicon level sensor packages for flight control and data capture not to mention long distance data comm. For example look at what a rich full featured technology suite that they were able to design into their winged UAV the Kestrel  https://www.autelrobotics.com/Kestrel/  Perhaps their strategy is to be one stop shopping and they control who they partner with and share their SDK interface with?

So please take me to school and let me know how someone with your years of RC craft building, fixing and flying would be able to take advantage of a UAV manufacturers SDK? I am so new to this drone application of RTOS and flight control plus datacomm components. I have previously sold microcontroller technology for Intel and RTOS technology for Wind River Systems. I am very familiar with printed circuit board and component level software development. Many of my customers during that time frame (I left that industry in 2006 after 24 years in sales) were building things to go into space such as satellites and rockets. In fact I was able to see the original Lockheed FY22 cockpit development cockpit several times prior to it going black.

I do realize that some of my postings are wordy. I'm just asking for you to let me know how access to these hardware and software design interfaces, benefit an owner that builds their own drone. At this very early point of my involvement with drone technology, it is my opinion that the components are plug and play, sometimes with a little use of the soldering iron, but the firmware is already programmed and embedded in the individual hardware memory areas of the components. Some of the better designs provide a USB port to perform firmware flash up dates to the drone. Ii studied microcontroller programming and design in college but that was in early 1980's, things have changed a lot since then. My embedded OS sales were in 2001 timeframe.

Thank you for sharing your experience, I have already benefited from several of your prior postings.

Respectfully,

Michael

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Drone Driver I believe DJI made the right move in making their platform open to developers by providing an SDK. This has allowed companies like Drone Deploy and Precision Hawk  to build automated mission apps for their mapping services. DJI has its own DJI GO app for camera missions but there are 3rd party apps like Litchi that I believe provide some additional features. Autel provides an app called "Starlink" for their UAVs and maybe that that's good enough for camera missions but I am not so sure for mapping. Also an area that I would like to explore is flight logging and maintenance.

 

Edited by Spitfire76
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Spitfire76,

I agree with you 100% that the application developers need to have access to an SDK or specifications on how to access data acquired as well as automated flight control. I am also curious to learn more about aerial mapping applications as applied to Ag Services. Litchi is one specific application the I most would like to have access to on an Autel platform. One has to hope that the big mapping applications vendors would see the prudence in having more than one hardware vendor as an aerial platform provider, esp. with the DJI post sales service issues.

As far as flight logging is concerned, Alan turned me on to an application called Skyward which does provide a pretty good flight logging interface as well as many other services. I'm just not too big into cloud computing architecture for most of my computer use.

And I thank you for your reply, I was just curious if you were an embedded code software engineer wanting to write driver level code for a new hardware sensor design that you wanted to incorporate.

Respectfully,

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Drone Driver I am not an embedded software engineer but I have spent over 35 years in the computing and telecommunication industries mainly in engineering roles. I don't have plans to development any UAV applications at the moment but would like to have that as an option which is why I am now leaning towards getting a DJI Phantom 4 despite their poor reputation for after sales support. I did check with Autel and they don't have any SDK and their Starlink app does not seem well suited for surveying. Also the P4 has collision avoidance included so maybe it would be a fairer to compare the X Start Premium with the Phantom 3 Professional in which case the prices are very close.

Edited by Spitfire76
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing the Autel SDK info. I am not an embedded sw engineer neither, In college we I did work at the component level and wrote some 8080, 8085 and Z80 assemble level code. However upon graduation I took a sales position with Intel back in 1982.

DJI has by far the most application software app available. However, I have seen videos that show the motor support areas of the shell crack often and in the same video he said he has personally seen component selection downgrading the quality of components used in their builds over time. At this point I can wait and see if the market dominance shifts a little so that other manufacturers will have more selection of hardware platforms that their applications are ported to. I am sure that you are weighing P3 Pro vs P4 decision.

One of the market trends that I am noticing is in house drone development and in house app support on top of that. Such as Kespry - http://www.kespry.com/

Link to post
Share on other sites

Writing code in assembly language for the intel 8080 and Zilog Z80 brings back great memories. I still have the bread board of the first computer that I built in the late 70s based on the Z80. I see similarities with that early PC age and the UAV industry these past few years.

The P4 seems to be the best value in that price range but I am in no hurry to buy and so will wait for those holiday deals. Also GoPro should be announcing their drone on the 19th of this month so it will be interesting to see what competition, if any, it will be for DJI.

You mention the in house market but I am wondering if that's an area that DJI is also trying to tap with its Matrice 100 by supplying the basic platform to be customized.

Edited by Spitfire76
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep - back in the day....

One could go to Heath Co. and get S100 bus based system building blocks

The WOPR was an end of world threat (8 bit micro)

Radio Shack had discrete TTL logic chips that you could buy for breadboarding

CPM was a threat to MS DOS

64 K of memory was considered large

and a bit later on Floppy discs were originally 8 inches in dia

Ok so here is what I am going after either a sophisticated advanced beginner drone to begin to develop my pilot skills, OR get a P3 an begin to learn how to program it for autonomous flight programming. Since DJI has marketshare - FOR NOW - it is almost like you are forced to buy DJI. I am not convinced that DJI is committed to prosumer market, however since it is their cash cow they need to sell large quantities to keep their cash burn rate manageable. But for all intents and purposes the DJI 4 is a captive system (integrated camera) and is really a disposable platform, versus professional grade device, no redundancy in any single onboard system. 

Here is an article regarding what you and I recognize as the dynamic forces at play in the current drone marketshare shakeout. The fact that you can go out and capture some rather detailed data with these products has nothing to do with a ROI for the end user or consumer of that data. http://droneanalyst.com/2016/07/07/quicktake-can-kespry-overcome-brand-challenge/

I received a followup reply from Autel re: support for Litchi = not supported as of now. I also sent Litchi an email asking if they are porting to Autel, no reply yet. As well I have sent a message to Drone Deploy asking the same regarding Autel platform. Ortho photography picture stitching practice is what I am after. It seems like this experience is beneficial to know how to do if you are to do any mapping or 3D point cloud imaging.

I am anxious to buy my first drone to learn how to fly, and might have to go the DJI learners kit approach versus a more fun to fly platform for my first. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

As I was doing some research on the Autel X-Star Premium, I came across this thread (great discussion, sorry I am late to the game). Some colleagues and I at a university-based research unit at which I work recently secured limited internal funding to start building a UAS-capacity (I have been trying to secure this for over a year now). After an exceptionally disappointing experience with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ (it arrived with a cracked gimbal, a non-functioning camera, and a DJI Go 4 app that wouldn't launch or consistently crashed--and I have had virtually zero problems with my personal P3S), one colleague recommended we look into the Autel X-Star Premium: great price, interchangeable gimbal, Starlink app, etc. were all selling points. However, as a GIS/remote sensing guy, I am very interested in using any UAS as a mapping platform, so certain third party apps are a must (I am a huge fan of Drone Deploy, for instance). All that to say this is how I stumbled across this thread. The good news is this thread inspired slightly more research, which led me to this: https://www.autelrobotics.com/autel-robotics-release-software-development-kit-x-star-series-drones/

We ordered on X-Star Premium last week and it should arrive soon (we also sent back on DJI P4P+, which we will likely replace with DJI4P--this time without the built in screen, so we can better control the apps--that's another story, I am still very disappointed about this). I know this thread is about six months old, but if individuals are still interested, I will check back in after we get some stick time with both these platforms for a nice comparison.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello @Todd F. I would be interested in your experience with the X-Star Premium. I may have added it to this thread or another one else where on the forum but they are still offering a $150 amazon gift card to pay for the the part 107 exam although this expires at the end of March. My only concern about purchasing one of these now is that shortly after CES they announced layoffs which seems to be a trend with all the companies trying to compete with the DJI.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an X-Star Premium and have had for a couple of months now. I also have had a DJI P3P, a P4 and now have a P4P.

The software for the Autel is pretty good and is is very quick, but it is NOT a P4P. The Phantom is rock solid in hovers and very solid in flight, where the Autel is harder to control and not nearly as stable.

The camera is quite good, comparable to the Phantom 4, and I like the removable gimbal. I might be interested in the FLIR Duo when it is available. I have had a few problems with dropped and corrupted photos, ruining several DroneBase missions which had to be redone, and I would be very nervous with this platform outside line of sight. All that being said, the Autel is a good bird for the money but, in my opinion, not up to the P4Pro for stability and reliability.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.