Autel drones offer a unique advantage for mission planning, as the general flying app and the mission planning app are one and the same. That’s very convenient, and here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Open the Mission Planning Feature

In the Autel Explorer app, go directly to the mission planning option. You’ll have the choice to create a waypoint mission, a rectangular mission, or a polygon mission. The polygon mission offers the most flexibility, so we’ll use that for this example.

Step 2: Choose Your Map

View The app will open a satellite view by default. You can switch to a hybrid or topographical map if you prefer, but for this tutorial, we’ll stick with the satellite view (labeled “GPS”).

Step 3: Select Your Mapping Area

Zoom into the area you want to map. For this example, we’ll map a local beach. Tap the plus sign (+) to drop a square flight area onto the map. The blue lines represent the drone’s planned flight path as it moves back and forth across the area.

Step 4: Adjust Flight Parameters

Tap on the parameter settings in the bottom-left corner. The default altitude is set to 60 meters, but you can adjust this based on the level of detail and area coverage you need. Keep in mind that the altitude is linked to the ground sampling distance (GSD), which is displayed in centimeters per pixel. For this example, we’ll increase the altitude to 80 meters.
As you change the altitude, you’ll notice that the spacing between the flight lines automatically adjusts. It’s generally a good idea to keep the front overlap and side lap at 80% for simplicity, but this can be adjusted based on your specific needs and the environment you’re mapping. Keep in mind that increasing the side lap will result in closer flight lines and longer flight times.

Step 5: Review and Adjust Flight Plan

Check the estimated flight time, area coverage, and number of photos in the upper-right corner. If the flight time is too long, you’ll need to adjust your parameters or change the flight area. Aim for a flight time around 15 minutes.
To adjust the flight area, drag the corners of the polygon to resize it. If you need to add a point, grab one of the plus signs (+) along the edges and move it to the desired location. Keep the flight area as close to a rectangle as possible and ensure there are at least three parallel flight lines for optimal orthomosaic creation.
If you’re happy with the flight plan but need to reposition it, click in the middle of the polygon and drag it to the desired location.

Step 6: Save and Fly

Once you’re satisfied with your flight plan, give it a name by tapping the “Edit” button and entering a descriptive title. Click “OK” to save the name, and use the “Save” button at the bottom to save any additional changes. If you need to start over, use the “Delete” button to clear the entire mission.

When you’re ready to fly, connect your drone and perform pre-flight safety checks. Click the blue “Flight” button to upload the mission to your drone. The app will verify GPS connectivity and other parameters. Take off manually and get the drone to a safe altitude, then press the “Start” button to begin the automated mission. When the mission is complete, take manual control and fly the drone back to the landing point.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to create custom mapping missions using the Autel Explorer app’s polygon mission feature. Happy mapping, and we look forward to seeing your data on GeoNadir!