I really don’t know what to say about this one.
I watched a video from Simon Newtons excellent channel, On the Kitchen Table earlier and he had noted an up tick in negative sentiment against Yuneec products in his comments.
I had a pleasant email exchange about it with him and as this was happening an email dropped into my inbox here it is…..
Optical vs Ultrasonic in UAV Collision Avoidance
A recently posted running a new Yuneec Typhoon H through its collision-avoidance paces, shows some interesting differences from DJI’s Phantom 4.
Pardon the spoiler, but in the video, the Typhoon H eventually crashes into a wall when it approaches from an oblique angle. We’re sure the shooter intended the failure of avoidance to be the video’s high point, but it shouldn’t be to most tech nerds. Instead, we’re interested in how the Typhoon H’s technology behaves differently from a Phantom 4 in a similar situation.
At the start of the video posted by “LEE ROL,” the Typhoon H is flown toward a wall. We know that because the video editor helpfully includes a subtitle in pidgin English, “approach to the wall in slow speed.”
The Typhoon H’s avoidance system works, stopping the craft before impact. As the sound waves bounce back from the wall to the sensors on the front of the UAV, the Typhoon H bobs and weaves a bit. In the next cut, a window-in-window shot shows full-throttling of the H head-on toward the wall. The Typhoon H’s avoidance system worked again, but you can see the craft getting wobbling back and forth from returning sound waves.
Next up was a flight directly at some trees, which were also moving from the wind. Even without breathless pseudo-English subtitles, it was clear the pilot almost lost control of the Typhoon H. It swayed a few feet in either direction as he maintained full throttle, bouncing in the air.
And then, as we mentioned, the Typhoon H’s sensors didn’t work in the 45-degree approach, resulting in chaos and mayhem (OK, we made that up), but we do see it bounce off the wall from two different angles and either lose a bit of something, or maybe it was the wall that lost a bit of something.
Now, to the Phantom 4, which came out two months ago and features an optical avoidance system — front-mounted stereo cameras. In this, at around 7:50, you can see how the DJI craft behaves when they fly it, first fairly slowly, then at full-tilt, at their house.
With the optical avoidance system engaged, the cameras “see” the obstacle, map it and slam on the brakes. While there’s an initial, “uh-oh” moment where the drone backs up a few inches, it then stops on a dime and just holds, without a wiggle.
Part of that precision is also due to two more cameras and two ultrasonic sensors that are pointing downward, letting the Phantom 4 know where the ground is and maintain its altitude. So, what you’re getting is precision in three dimensions.
Precision is a good word, because it’s one of the two key differences between the Yuneec Typhoon H’s avoidance system and that of the DJI Phantom 4. A sound wave gives the craft a general sense of what’s in front of it, and it works, but not as precisely as an optical system, nor at the same operating distance. The Phantom 4’s optical sensors are good out to about 15 meters and have a 60-degree-wide field of view and almost the same horizontally. The Typhoon H’s sensors only operate at 1/10th that distance.
The other difference is speed. Obstacle avoidance on the Phantom 4 works at speeds up to 10 meters per second, about five times as fast as “Turtle Mode” on the Typhoon H, which makes sense, because it’s “better safe than sorry” when your craft isn’t 100% sure what’s in front of it.
And there’s one other difference between the avoidance systems: machine learning. In its autonomous “TapFly” mode, the Phantom 4 can actually decide to climb over an obstacle if, from its map and onboard processor, it determines that at its speed and heading, it can safely do so. That feature is not available with the Typhoon H.
Now dear sUAS News reader, I know you are smarter than just believing facts generated by competitors. I thought I had better include this email in today’s news because it will slowly turn into fact and other posts and articles in the next 24 hours.
The Yuneec H is potentially an issue for the DJI Inspire as it weighs less than 2kgs. Australia is about to relax commercial regulations for sub 2kg platforms, other countries to follow. It also has the backing of Intel. Last but not least its a hexacopter so that offers a tiny bit of redundancy in the event of an engine failure.
Was the H in the video even fitted with RealSense??
I’m from a country where we would say this sort of negative advertising is not cricket. Nor professional. I am not sure the negative comments on YouTube and emails are really from DJI. It just does not seem right.
I don’t own either a DJI or Yuneec product so I don’t have a hat in the ring in that regard. It would seems whispers of the drone market cooling quite dramatically this year might be right. Its cut throat in sales.
Lets all watch this play out on social media now.