Planning a flight at your computer, then flying it in the field
Web-based flight planning is used during mission creation to set a pre-determined grid flight. Planning a flight through the portal can cut down on time pilots spend in the field. It allows pilots assigned to the mission to quickly view the mission and focus on mission competition.
Creating a flight plan
To create a new flight plan, first create a mission. Once the mission is created, open up the Details view for that mission and select the '+' next to Flight Plan to create a new flight plan, or open an existing flight plan to edit it.
On the flight planning screen, select parameters for your mission (name, aircraft, camera, etc.) and press Submit to begin editing the flight plan. Adjust the map to the desired flight area. By default, the map will center on the mission's location; to relocate, simply drag the base layer to the desired location.
The flight planning tool will automatically generate a flight area composed of a polygon overlaid with a flight path. The flight area can be resized and reshaped by dragging the corner anchors to the desired location. Additional anchors can be added by tapping the "plus" icons at the midpoint of each side.
To edit the flight path parameters, change the values in the flight settings panel. The MGC Web Portal will suggest default parameters based on aircraft and camera. All available settings can be edited, including:
- Picture frontlap/sidelap: Percent of each photo that will overlap with the adjacent photos.
- Resolution: Ground distance covered per pixel.
- Flight direction: Primary heading of aircraft during the flight. Each row will be flown with the aircraft flying at or away from the set heading.
- Speed: Airspeed of the aircraft while flying each row.
- Cross hatch: Fly an extra grid overlaid on the default grid at a heading offset 45° or 90° from the primary flight direction. Will double flight time and pictures captured.
- Gimbal angle: Direction of the camera/sensor gimbal.
The HUD at the bottom of the screen displays flight information for the flight as drawn, including estimated flight time, area covered, and number images to be captured.
As of this writing, only grid missions can be planned using the Measure Ground Control web portal. Waypoint mission planning will be available in the web portal in an upcoming release. Both grid and waypoint missions can be planned using the Measure Ground Control mobile app.
Flying a pre-planned mission
Once a flight plan has been created, the mission will automatically update with the new flight plan. All personnel (pilots, data analysts) assigned to the mission will receive a notification informing them of the change.
Pilots on site or within the vicinity of available flight plans will be able to find them in the Missions and Checklists menu in the MGC Mobile App. To fly a pre-planned mission in the mobile app:
- Start the mission via the missions menu
- Select the flight plan from the menu
- The drone will perform a series of pre-flight checks. If successful, it will prompt the pilot to launch the aircraft and start the mission.
If the flight is started, the aircraft will spin up and begin conducting the mission.
During flight, the app will automatically control gimbal pitch and capture images based on the flight plan. Progress can be monitored in the flight app; users can swap between the map mode and the camera feed by tapping the thumbnail in the bottom right corner.
Grid flights can be paused or stopped at any time using the controls on the left side of the screen:
- Pause: Pause the flight and revert to manual control. Upon resuming the grid flight, the drone will return to its last known position during the flight and attempt to continue executing the flight plan.
- Home: Pause the flight and order the drone to return to the home point. Upon reaching the home point, the drone will start the landing procedure unless the grid flight is resumed or manual control is taken.
- Stop: Ends the flight and returns the drone to manual control. A stopped grid flight must be restarted in its entirety; stopped grid flights cannot be resumed.