The will of the drone

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In this blog post, I would like to explain further our work in Iceland and reflect on the experiences we are having regarding drone flying. There are two main archeological sites that we are surveying in this year’s expedition. One of them is close to the home we are staying in at Skálanes. It is both an archaeological site and a nature reserve/bird sanctuary. Our wonderful host Rundvig is the lead archeologist and is very interested in learning more about the place. We are hoping that our drone images will help her understand the area better. The second one is at Stöð, and it is an important archeological site for understanding the first settlement of Iceland.

DJI Phantom 4 Series drone that we are using to capture VLI imagery

This year, our mission is to take aerial images of as many areas of interest as possible that we were pointed to by our archeology friends. We are trying to take as many structured flights as possible, which means using external software to produce a flight plan. Flight plans are basic instructions for the drone, so it knows exactly what area it needs to cover without the pilot needing to fly it manually. We are using a new Android application for making flight plans called Pix4D Capture. This app lets us draw a rectangle in the world, and it sends the information of the flight plan based on that rectangle. We can choose the elevation of the flight plan, how fast the drone will fly, the overlap of the images, and the angle of the camera. We choose to use this app because our previous flight planning app was not compatible with drones other than the Phantom 3 series. We also wanted to use software that would be accessible to everyone.

Davit and Tamara flying a drone

Our experience of flying drones in Iceland has been full of ups and downs. The will of the drone is very unpredictable. Many things can upset it, such as high wind speed, not enough satellite coverage, or maybe an app running in the background on our phone. Because of this, we have learned always to expect the unexpected and to make the best that we got. The only issue is that bad weather and miss-behaving drone makes unfortunate drone pilots. However, over time we have become better at understanding the mysterious behaviors and what helps to make the drone act in the way that we want. Although, we will probably never fully understand the will of the drone.

Davit captured in NIR while trying to make a drone work in Stöð