Terrain Following


Please add this feature.


100% need and would pay for this feature. The ability to follow hillsides and terrain changes here would be ideal. You’re already scraping altitude data (making the elevation maps), so it seems like the hooks are already there.


bump, love to see this


Double bump for visibility


Also a setting indicate lowest MSL limit would be nice. As one job I have along a sea shore, if it followed terrain and did not stop at sea level, it would follow the beach into the ocean :wink:


Terrain following would be handy for the Pits we work in and out of with Quarry and Mine works.


Any movement on this. I do almost all my mapping in mountainous terrain and terrain following is necessary.


@treeboy - unfortunately, we do not have a current timeframe for terrain following.


What about allowing us to fly manually to the various high points in the survey area, setting our desired height for the DD mission software. That way we could scout out the area manually first, and set the safe heights relative to the specific terrain, trees, or structures.


This is a feature that’s badly needed. I think the challenge is that you might need different approaches depending on what you’re mapping. For NDVI mapping, you want the UAV to stay at the same relative height above the crop throughout the flight. For terrain mapping, you really want to fly at a consistent safe height AGL throughout the survey. Any progress on this feature?


Realistically, we do not see this as upcoming in 2016- as the DJI SDK develops further and more customers request this feature, we will revisit it. Thanks for your feedback!


I see an implementation using the, readily available, google earth elevation data… adding a buffer into the logic.


Maps Made Easy supports this. https://support.dronesmadeeasy.com/hc/en-us/articles/211810943-Terrain-Awareness


We want to put our names in the hat as users who would benefit greatly from this. We currently use a Mission Planner/Pixhawk solution to capture our images and both Copter and Plane support terrain following. We are dipping our toes into DJI as a platform and thus would use DD to both fly and process but we just can’t risk a terrain incursion and aircraft loss. For instance, one property that we are flying has almost 300m of terrain variation which is handled seamlessly by our current solution.

As others pointed out, other competitor platforms already offer this as an option so it would be great to see DD implement an optional Terrain Follow tick box pulling data from SRTM like everyone else.

Many many thanks!


The earth is not flat, and the Federal 400’ AGL restriction means that fixed MSL mapping doesn’t work where there’s a terrain variation of over 200’ or so. I just flew 320 acres with a terrain variation of close to 900’. I had to split it into multiple missions with multiple LZs using a complicated process with Excel, VBA, and Google Earth. It also meant that I had to fly 120’ lower than I would have liked in order to stay in compliance with FAA regs due to steep terrain. It ended up being a 4-battery project and took double the time it should have. Given that DD’s competitors already have it, I don’t see Terrain Following as optional.


In our business, we have a need for terrain following far more than occasionally’ Here in Alaska, the earth is rarely flat, but we still have to maintain that darned 400’ AGL. The situation is likely similar across much of the U.S. Mining projects are frequently located in areas of varying terrain, requiring cumbersome kluge to fly such projects without terrain following. One option, I suppose, is to fly projects using terrain following of Maps Made Easy, but then upload into Drone Deploy. Please urgently consider adding terrain following to the already-excellent catalog of Drone Deploy features.


Hi Chase, I live and work in the Sierras. I need this every time I fly.



I need this for like 50% of missions.


Agree entirely, lack of ability it use terrain following in my agricultural missions causes me a lot of headaches. Also needs to be android compatible.


We have the same issues, and hope that DD has put this towards the top of the develop. plan. We’ve also come up with some techniques to overcome this.

Everyone always want to fly as ’nap of the Earth’ as possible, but the closer you get to the ground the bigger your issues become. In fact the closer you get to the ground the issues quadruple. So first thing to consider is how high a resolution do you really need?

  1. So we fly a P4P and it’s camera has a 94 degree FOV. Given that and a little bit of high school geometry, we get;
  • 100 ft = 0.5 in/px
  • 200 ft = 1.0 in/px
  • 400 ft = 2.0 in/px
    and here’s the kicker, if you’re providing your Customers 2 inch Orthomosaics, because the file size is reasonable, then there’s no reason to fly below 400 ft. But we all do anyway. That’s cool.

So next thing to consider are those 2 pesky FAA requirements, fly no higher than 400 feet and always keep the drone in sight.

  1. With regard to line of sight, we find it’s hard to keep sight of our drone much farther out than 1500 feet out. Now with some grade school math that’s about 120 acres. So for a lot of us you need to break up the mission into multiple flights. And I’ll bet most of us split those missions into flights by field boundaries and or to get around trees or such.

So having read so far, the answer is fly by contours. Check it out, Using DD’s elevation map;

The map shows, how we used to fly the area, by block boundaries. Now because we want the best resolution possible we split that into 3 overlapping flights based on the elevations in the area.

  1. And lastly, with regard to that 400 foot altitude restriction. If you fly in any kind of hilly or mountainous terrain it’s hard to not violate that rule occasionaly even when flying well below 400 feet. What we’ve done in the past is try to stand near the top of the area and fly from there, and if the drone is at more than 400 feet at the bottom of the field, well stuff happens. What we now do is stand in the middle of the area to be flown, and adjust our altitude from there.

And remember, always give it more lap!