Can Anyone Tell Me Where my P3P Most Likely Auto Landed?

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Hi, I was wondering if any of you who are good at analyzing data might be able to tell me roughly where my Phantom 3 Pro landed last week. After 41 mostly uneventful flights, I made a horrible mistake, which I've since learned never to repeat...hindsight is 20-20. At any rate, I was in Angeles National Forest last Saturday after flying my drone successfully most of the afternoon, was down to 18% on my last battery. As my friend and I were heading down the mountain, we saw this amazing sunset and stopped to take some photos of it in a scenic parking area on the edge of a remote canyon. I hoped to get just a few seconds of video with the drone, wrongly thinking that the RTH feature would automatically return it once the battery got too low.

However, the device didn't attempt to return to home. Instead, it went into auto landing mode. I tried to activate the Return to Home feature on the app, but it didn't give me that option. Failing that, I tried to make the drone land close to where the road looped around approximately 315 feet below the launching location, so we would be able to get to it on foot, as much of the canyon is rocky and inaccessible. The drone began spinning around in circles uncontrollably at this point, dropping at about 10 feet per second and then it lost connection with the RC. At this time, it was traveling about 6.5 miles per hour. Its last reading before losing contact indicated it was at an elevation of -147 feet. The starting elevation in the parking area was 4337.3 feet. The elevation at the foot of the canyon was 4022.3 feet. So the drone must have been about 168 feet in the air over the canyon when the log and video communication stopped working. I watched the drone land in an area close to the road. My friend and I raced down to that location and tried to locate the drone using the "Find My Drone" feature, but we were unable to find it. It landed near a dry creek bed in an area covered with dense vegetation.

I've gone back several times since then to look for it, searching for hours each time in an area full of bees, biting flies, poison ivy, and most likely a few rattlesnakes, but it's nowhere to be found. The good news is that it's a relatively small area.

I've contacted DJI customer service and have uploaded my flight logs, provided them with the serial number, etc. They're currently reviewing them while I await their solution. But in the meantime, I was hoping to be able to figure out where it went down. The winds that day were minimal, and the battery was at 3% when it lost contact, in auto land mode.

Here is the flight data: https://www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/

Thanks in advance for any suggestions on where it might have landed.
 

msinger

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However, the device didn't attempt to return to home. Instead, it went into auto landing mode.
Phantoms (and other DJI drones) don't attempt to return home when the battery reaches the critically low level (like in this case). They immediately start auto landing to attempt to get the aircraft to the ground before the battery shuts off. That auto landing cannot be cancelled.


The drone began spinning around in circles uncontrollably at this point
The aircraft was only spinning in circles when you were commanding it to do so by moving the left stick to the right -- like this:

1567081713082.png


If you drag the green circle across the timeline in your log (below the map), you can see the left stick was in that position each time the aircraft started spinning.


The elevation at the foot of the canyon was 4022.3 feet. So the drone must have been about 168 feet in the air over the canyon when the log and video communication stopped working.
Since the aircraft was too high to be blocked by any obstacles, the battery most likely shut off mid-flight and the aircraft dropped to the ground (instead of landing).

Location1.png



I've gone back several times since then to look for it, searching for hours each time in an area full of bees, biting flies, poison ivy, and most likely a few rattlesnakes, but it's nowhere to be found. The good news is that it's a relatively small area.
The log shows the aircraft was last at 34.26090162, -118.11482415. It of course won't be at that exact spot since it was moving slowly and dropped to the ground. But, you should be able to find it if you start searching from that point.

Location2.png


I've contacted DJI customer service and have uploaded my flight logs, provided them with the serial number, etc. They're currently reviewing them while I await their solution.
What are you hoping they will find?
 
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A tough problem, in the last 6 months I have had friends come up to me and give me drones that they have found, no marking nothing that could be traced. I pull the flash card to view the video in hopes of identifying who and where they were launching from. Good luck in your request, don't give up you just might luck out and find it. All my birds are properly marked with phone number as well, better to pay out a reward then to buy a new bird. Hope you find it.
 

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I hoped to get just a few seconds of video with the drone, wrongly thinking that the RTH feature would automatically return it once the battery got too low.
It looks like you stayed up more than a few seconds.
You missed the warning message at 1:41.2, that told you: Critically Low Power. Aircraft Landing
The drone was 385 feet from the roadway near you and 47 ft higher than the launch point.

Instead of bringing the drone back, you flew it 1650 feet further on a winding path with some very confused and extreme joystick inputs that also caused the spinning you observed.

 
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Thanks for your insights.

It did start beeping early on in the flight, but this is the first time it didn't return to home by itself automatically when it gave a low battery alert. Of course, I probably never got the battery that low, and at the time I didn't really understand that autolanding prevented RTH. The reason I didn't bring it back at 1:42 was because I was trying to select the RTH option on the app but couldn't get it to respond. I was having trouble steering it because of the limited functionality with autolanding mode. My friend was talking to me at this point telling me not to let it land straight down because we wouldn't be able to get to it, so in the confusion, I must not have realized I was the one causing it to go in circles. This was the first time I ever dealt with Autolanding mode.

I did see it come down and disappear from view near that road and it seemed to be descending more slowly than free fall.

I'm wondering if it might have traveled to the side of the hill into that green clump of shrubbery at the top of the second photo, or if, given the last recorded speed of 6.5 mph, it could have made it across the road.

If the last recorded descent speed was around 10 feet per second and it was 168 feet in the air at that point, it would have taken 16.8 additional seconds after communication was lost to reach the ground....unless maybe it came down on the edge of the hillside (green clump) on the upper part of the pic.

I contacted DJI to ask if the find my drone map indicated its real time or last known position and if they would be able to help me determine where it might have come down, based on the data. They requested I upload my flight records to their server for analysis.

My sole objective at the moment is to narrow down my search area as much as possible by analyzing speed, trajectory, etc., to see if I should be focusing on that hillside, or possibly across the road. I thoroughly searched around the last known point of contact for several hours and have found nothing so far.
 
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Return to home is on your RC not in your app. Was it turned off in the app? Autoland cannot be changed. If you took off with 18% it had already passed the return to home warlaing. At 10% you would have gotten your critical warning and would have initiated Autoland. At last contact, 3% it would not have crossed the road, it would go straight down. Hope it's waiting for you.
 
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Meta4

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With only 15% in the battery, you shouldn't have launched, but if you did, you should have only gone straight up.
Once you got the landing now warning, you could have brought the drone back very close if you had understood how to steer it home using the radar display or the map window.
I was having trouble steering it because of the limited functionality with autolanding mode.
You managed to steer the aircraft.
The problem was you didn't know how to steer it toward safety.

I did see it come down and disappear from view near that road and it seemed to be descending more slowly than free fall.
I'm wondering if it might have traveled to the side of the hill into that green clump of shrubbery at the top of the second photo, or if, given the last recorded speed of 6.5 mph, it could have made it across the road.
Your Phantom was 830 feet away and 250 feet above ground level.
Did you see it touchdown or lose sight of it?
After signal was lost, the drone would have gone back to landing vertically (or fall when the battery gave up)
I contacted DJI to ask if the find my drone map indicated its real time or last known position and if they would be able to help me determine where it might have come down, based on the data. They requested I upload my flight records to their server for analysis.
DJI won't be much help.
The Find My Drone feature can only show where the app last had contact with your drone - not where it ended up.
The last recorded location was 34.26090 -118.11482

Return to home is on your RC not in your app. Was it turned off in the app?
Left side of the screen - the middle icon is Return to Home
You cannot turn this off.
 
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Thanks for your comments, Meta4 and Capt KO. I went back to the location today and searched for six hours. I started at that coordinate , expanding the circles more and more, crawling through underbrush, looking in tree branches, and I even checked out the adjacent hillsides. I climbed a tree for an overhead perspective and still saw nothing. I'm 54, so that was quite a workout, lol. I think it was one of two things: either someone got to it before I did, or else it drifted away on the 3% battery it had remaining to somewhere else.

I wanted to bring it to safety, as you mentioned, Meta4 -- but at first, I wasn't sure where safety was. Once it hit 10%, like you said, it went into auto landing mode, and I wasn't able to get the RTH on the app to work, because it didn't want to go up at that point, and it appeared to be below the canyon rim. I was just going to let it land right then, but my friend started saying that we couldn't make it to that area because it was too inaccessible with all the underbrush and steep hills. It was only then that I saw the road below and realized we could get to it there. So I was able to move it horizontally toward the road. I then saw it start to descend, but it disappeared from view before it landed. I also reviewed the video and saw that it was really high up when I lost the connection.

So, I'm devastated. I loved that little Phantom. I will get a new one, since I already have the spare batteries and carrying case for this one. And maybe I can offset the cost by selling my RC for this one. And next time, I'm only going to fly when the battery's at 100%, no matter how spectacular the sunset is!
 
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sar104

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The disconnect was a shutdown, not just loss of signal. Winds are always difficult to model in steep canyons, but based on the initial flight data, the wind was down canyon out of the NE, and in the 5 - 10 mph range. With that estimate, and based on last recorded velocity and position, the descent track should be approximately as shown below:

Results2.png


1567139697054.jpeg
 
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Thank you, sar104! I appreciate your making the effort to get the wind conditions and showing me this image. I don't know how to get the angles of these maps like you guys are doing. It's interesting that it shut down, as opposed to just losing signal, as I was reading about other cases where the battery was still able to land the drone safely even at 0%. As I mentioned, I combed that area for 6 hours today, and even went up those adjacent hillsides to see if it ended up there, but nothing. I was so disappointed, and sure it was largely my fault, but this evening, I got some great news from DJI: their data analysis showed that (despite my wonky operation of the controls, low-battery flight, and panicked decision-making), that this was a warranty case, and they have offered to provide me with a replacement quad absolutely free! I told them they will have a customer for life.
 
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sar104

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Thank you, sar104! I appreciate your making the effort to get the wind conditions and showing me this image. I don't know how to get the angles of these maps like you guys are doing. It's interesting that it shut down, as opposed to just losing signal, as I was reading about other cases where the battery was still able to land the drone safely even at 0%. As I mentioned, I combed that area for 6 hours today, and even went up those adjacent hillsides to see if it ended up there, but nothing. I was so disappointed, and sure it was largely my fault, but this evening, I got some great news from DJI: their data analysis showed that (despite my wonky operation of the controls and panicked decision-making), that this was a warranty case, and they have offered to provide me with a replacement quad absolutely free! I told them they will have a customer for life.
The battery percentage is only an estimate. If you look at the cell voltages you can see that they were collapsing fast. Cell 3 likely dropped below 3.2 V, triggering the shutdown.

cells.png
 
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Skytrekker, before you call it quits, maybe you know someone that also has a drone that could do a low level recon of the area's mentioned. An aerial view is more productive than a ground level or treetop view. My hat is off to all the great advice you received here to help you. I'm impressed with the knowledge you all have, nice to know folks like you are out there to help if I ever need it.
 
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Happy for you, but very surprised in DJI. Replacing a P3P under warranty is unheard of. Must have a supply of leftover refurbs.

Wish you had looked for your bird with another. Might have made the difference and kept you out of trees to climb. But Your phone persistence, paid off. Congrats.
 
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Skytrekker, before you call it quits, maybe you know someone that also has a drone that could do a low level recon of the area's mentioned. An aerial view is more productive than a ground level or treetop view. My hat is off to all the great advice you received here to help you. I'm impressed with the knowledge you all have, nice to know folks like you are out there to help if I ever need it.
I know -- you guys have been wonderful and I deeply appreciate it. I suppose that despite the things I should have done differently, DJI felt that there was some kind of equipment or battery problem, based on their analysis. Rick26h, unfortunately, I just don't know anyone around here with a drone that would be willing to take the time and effort to go out there with me. I had been thinking of renting a second drone to look for it, but as it is, I went over the last seen location as well as the places suggested in the photos with a fine-tooth comb over several days for hours each time (and have the scratches to prove it!), and not only was the drone not there, but there was no sign of the battery or a broken prop or anything. It's good to know that if something goes wrong that DJI will step in as they have. Thanks again to everyone!
 
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So, a replacement at no charge?

Yesterday, I started this post:
Does anybody know how he could be reaching speeds up to 24 mph, but the home distance is still 0 ft.
Then at 2:30 it jumps from home distance 0' to 434' ?

I got busy, I went home, well it was still in my draft when I brought up this thread.

Could this be why DJI replaced it?

Replacing a unit with all this information showing in the flight log (my wonky operation of the controls, low-battery flight, and panicked decision-making). ;)

I'm in shock o_O

Rod
 

Meta4

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Does anybody know how he could be reaching speeds up to 24 mph, but the home distance is still 0 ft.
Then at 2:30 it jumps from home distance 0' to 434' ?
There's a glitch in the data showing in the CSV file.
No GPS location data for the home point is showing until 2:29.9, so distance from home is shown as zero until then.
However the home point location was recorded and the distance from home is shown correctly after 2:29.9
Could this be why DJI replaced it?
I doubt it.
I think he just got lucky and DJI slipped up.
It happens sometimes.
 
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