At the moment, most drone work is carried out using traditional radio-control systems. However, new systems are becoming more and more intuitive with some manufacturers going down the route of creating their own control systems whilst others are beginning to use iPads or even iPhones to control their drones. A team in America are doing some very exciting work with fully automated systems.
Operation within the UK under Civil Aviation Authority guidelines requires an operator to be able to take manual control if necessary in order to implement sense and avoid procedures. as a result, traditional systems that include what most people would recognise as a radio control are still used for the majority of operations.
At HexCam, our multirotors are based on the DJI Wookong multirotor controller. This gives us three possible modes depending on the situation to give a variety of control options. In full GPS mode, the multirotor will hold its position using GPS satellites. In atti mode, the multirotor will hold its position as well as possible without using GPS. In manual mode the operator has manual control of the multirotor. Future upgrades will allow us to use fully automated flight using the same system whilst always having the option of taking full manual control.
The DJI Wookong also features a return-to-base failsafe that will return the multirotor automatically to a preset start position and land in the event of loss of signal. As a result, our systems are about as safe as you can get. We carry out full risk assessments before each project and our pilots will soon be BNUC-S qualified to guarantee that they are trained to standards required by the CAA.