Sending an expensive piece of equipment up into the sky is always a little bit nerve-racking. Although the risk of losing the drone is very small, but once it happens, it means that you lose $10000. So, why exactly a drone will fly away and what should you do to prevent it?
Why would it happen?
Drones fly away when the radio signal between the controller and drone has been disrupted. This could be caused by an interfering external source such as a WiFi signal or nearby metal structure. Once the connection is lost, a drone doesn’t know what to do next and in most cases will control itself. However, modern drones have a fail safe system and the drone should safely return to home.
What should you do prevent it?
1. Stay within your visual line of sight, especially for beginners
It is very easy to get confused and disorientated if you cannot see the drone in the air. In many jurisdictions the rules stipulates that you should fly a drone in line of sight and this will make sure that you have complete control of the drone and there you are not flying it in places that you are not allowed to.
2. Reset your home point if you’re moving
As long as you have sufficient GPS signal, your Home Point will be set automatically when you take off. However, it won’t reset automatically if you move around. If you’re driving in a car or moving in a boat, you’ll need to reset your Home Point periodically.
3. Avoid sources of signal interference
Electromagnetic interference is a serious concern during drone flight. Your drone and controller communicate using radio waves set at frequency bands that are shared by virtually all commercial wireless devices. This can be a problem if you’re in a spot where a lot of wireless devices are in active use.
There are also larger sources of electromagnetic interference. Power lines, communications towers, or any large industrial device that runs on electricity will emit electromagnetic signals in its immediate vicinity. For this reason, it is considered good practice to steer clear of these structures unless you’re doing a commercial job specifically documenting them.
With better transmission technology, drone flyaways are now no longer as common as they used to be. This does not mean that they don’t happen anymore. Every now and then, we still read accounts of drones flying away for seemingly no reason and eventually crashing after a mile or two.
Drone flyaways can be traced either to a malfunctioning RTH function or signal dropouts. Both of these are avoidable by doing a GPS calibration before taking off and respecting the limits of your drone’s transmission module.