When you’re new to flying drones it can be overwhelming with the realisation you’ve got the potential to trash a multi-thousand dollar gadget. Market leader DJI have included a software simulator with their app for some time, but its incredibly basic. While the current simulator offers a 101 tutorial of control inputs, its incredibly difficult to feel like you’ve mastered the art of flying in 3 axis’s.
At CES, ReCode captured footage of DJI’s upcoming simulator that is a ground up rebuild and offers a substantially better digital experience before you venture out into the real world.
The new simulator starts off with the user selecting the drone they have, we’re unsure if you can have a fly of drones you’re considering buying, but that seems like a good idea to assist sales. You still use the physical controller to control the digital drone, but its also unclear if DJI still require you to have a drone connected and switched on (no props needed) while operating the sim, lets hope not.
The game-like experience contains a physics engine that pretty closely mirrors what you’ll experience in real life. You can see the drone respond to commands like the real drone would, complete with automatic hovering as well as deceleration and stabilisation when you stop feeding it input.
In the current simulator, you kind of just fly around in an empty field with nothing to do other than mastering the controls. In the upgraded simulator, you’ll be given tasks to do, like fly to specific destinations or photograph certain objects. Its easy to see this evolve into more advanced moves as you evolve as a pilot, like moving forward while increasing altitude and panning down to pull off that cinematic movie-style shot.
— DJI (@DJIGlobal) January 8, 2017
The explanation that accompanies the video (from DJI staff) explain there currently isn’t any wind in the physics model, but that is certainly a key aspect of flying that needs to be added for this to be the ultimate drone simulator.
Something else that isn’t clear, is if you can actually crash the drone and understand its collision avoidance abilities between models. Again this may help assist you in making a purchasing decision. Keeping with that thinking, it seems like DJI should ship this simulator on the Xbox or Playstation and let gamers leverage their similar controllers to enjoy, learn and experiment with flying drones.
Extending this concept further, DJI could partner with game developers and use digital recreations of real-world environments that already exist. There’s also the growing market of FPV or VR headsets that allow (not in Australia) owners to operate their drones (usually at high speeds) through the on-board camera which gets relayed to the headset. It’d be kind of amazing to see this simulator from DJI support the Oculus Rift so users could practice that side of flying too. While beginners certainly need the most help, medium-level pilots trying to reach advanced levels could also use some challenges. Throw in some Xbox Achievements and now you’re talking.
DJI is already leading the drone market and developments like these improvements in their simulator, demonstrates a hard press on accelerator pedal, which only sees the surging even further ahead of the competition.
At this stage the new simulator from DJI is in development, which we hope to see shipping to customers in 2017.
Via ReCode’s Facebook page.