A waypoint is a set of coordinates that identify a specific point in physical space. Drones with waypoint technology typically utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) — which are two different networks of satellites orbiting the earth — to create waypoints. As long as the drone is able to connect with at least four GPS or GLONASS satellites, precise three-dimensional positioning (longitude, latitude, altitude) can be determined.
As a drone pilot you can map a desired flight path with waypoints and specify the location and hover duration at each point. You can also save the flight path, which enables you to complete very precise routes and fly repeat missions in the future.
Incorporating waypoints into your drone flights
Incorporating waypoints into your drone flights enables you to:
Repeat your favorite missions: Whether you have a favorite flight path or are monitoring an area as part of your job, there are many reasons why you might want to repeat a mission. Most drones give you the ability to save your waypoint flights, which enables you to easily repeat missions in the future.
Focus on the camera controls: One of the biggest benefits of waypoints is that the drone automatically flies the route for you. If you’re trying to fly a complex route or capture specific aerial photographs or video footage, it can be challenging to simultaneously manage the flight and camera controls. With waypoints, you can focus on the camera inputs and capture the quality aerial imagery you want, while the drone automatically takes care of the flight.
You can map out a desired flight path using waypoints, including altitude and hover duration at each step, and the drone will automatically complete the route.
Capture time lapse photos: Repeating a flight path with waypoints or setting a single waypoint gives you the ability to take time lapse photos. This photography technique provides you with a unique way to capture scenery or subjects that change over time.
Practice your camera skills: If you’re a new drone pilot, mastering the camera and flight controls can take some practice. Learning how to fly with waypoints and letting the drone take over the flight, gives you the opportunity to practice with the camera controls and improve your aerial photography skills.
Using waypoints for work
Using waypoints to create repeatable missions can be a huge asset to commercial drone pilots. Here are some examples of how industry professionals can use waypoints and repeatable flights to accomplish meaningful work:
- Construction managers might fly the same daily or weekly mission to monitor progress on a project.
- Conservation experts might use a waypoint route to monitor snowpack or erosion.
- Farmers and agriculture professionals might use waypoints to monitor crop health or assess drought conditions.
- Real estate professionals could use waypoints to survey a property or monitor progress on a new development project.
- Disaster management experts could use waypoints to create a flight path that monitors cleanup progress and evaluates potentially dangerous areas.
Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for professionals in many industries, and the examples above represent just a few common use cases. If you use drones in your profession, consider how repeatable missions using waypoints can simplify the work you do.
The bottom line
Whether you’re a new pilot learning how to master the controls, or an experienced professional out on the job, waypoints can be used to expand your flight capabilities and enable you do more with your drone.