Flying your drone from a moving vehicle offers up a new set of challenges. If you do not streamline your systems and processes, you will end up losing your drone.
This blog post can serve as a great starting point for folks who are planning on flying from a moving boat or car. If you wish to learn more about this topic, we strongly recommend you check out our Flying over Water and Subject Tracking courses.
This is the first question that drone pilots ask us. Here is what is stated in Part 107 regarding flying from a moving vehicle -
No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft system—
(a) From a moving aircraft; or
(b) From a moving land or water-borne vehicle unless the small unmanned aircraft is flown over a sparsely populated area and is not transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire.
So, can you fly from a moving car or a boat? Yes – as long as you are located in a sparsely populated area. If you wish to fly in a populated area, you need to apply for a Part 107 waiver. And the chances of procuring one are slim to say the least. Remember, while flying from a moving vehicle is permitted, flying OVER one is not. This is FAA’s clarification with regards to the same.
“The FAA believes that a person should be allowed to fly over a person who is inside a stationary covered vehicle that can provided reasonable protection from a falling unmanned aircraft. The FAA has modified this rule accordingly. This rule will not, however, allow operation of a small unmanned aircraft over a moving vehicle because the moving vehicle-operating environment is dynamic and the potential impact forces when an unmanned aircraft impacts a moving vehicle pose unacceptable risks due to head-on closure speeds. Additionally, impact of a small unmanned aircraft may distract the driver of a moving vehicle and result in an accident.”
So, you have decided to set flight from a moving car or a boat in a sparsely populated area. Any drone pilot worth his salt knows the importance of maintaining and following a pre-flight check list. This is especially important when you are raising the bar by flying from a moving vehicle.
Firstly, make sure that you drone battery has enough juice in it. Ensure that you can view and closely monitor your battery voltage on your remote screen. Monitoring battery voltage is especially important when you are flying in extremely cold or extremely hot conditions. Extreme weather tends to deplete your flight time considerably. We recommend keeping your battery warm and insulated by a carrying a drone case such as that by GPC.
Ensure that wind speed is within acceptable limits. You can monitor the wind speed at varying elevations by going here.
Always set your “RC Signal Loss” to “Hover”. If this is set to “RTH”, your drone will travel away and back to the home-point – and end up in water. But, what will do if you forgot about this and set your RC Signal Loss to “RTH”. Check out our Flying Over Water course to learn how you can override the RTH feature.
Take-offs and landings when flying over water are particularly difficult. Watch out for any causes of interference and take appropriate measures to nip the problem in the bud.
Pro Tip – Switch off any Bluetooth enabled devices like music speakers, phones and even your smart watch for a safe and non-eventful flight
We recommend taking off from the back off the boat. Should you take off in GPS mode, Atti Mode or Sports mode? Check out our Flying Over Water course to find out which mode you should select and why.
Landing your drone when the boat is underway is particularly difficult. If the boat is underway, the speed of the boat should be at least 10 km less than the speed of the drone.
You can also attempt to hand catch a drone. Check out this cool vid which details the different ways to hand catch a drone. Remember – a drone with landing gear like a Phantom or Inspire is always easier to hand catch than a Mavic. If you are a newbie, we recommend you do not attempt to hand catch a Mavic.
Follow the precautionary measures discussed in the above video or you could seriously end up injuring yourself.
Subject tracking is definitely one of the COOLEST things that you can do with your drone. Drone U members can check out our COURSE VIDEO showing some awesome drills flown by Paul and class participants during a class in Lake Pleasant, Arizona.
Become a Drone U Member.
Follow our Medium Account for commentary on the latest happenings in the drone industry.
Do not forget to subscribe and Listen to Ask Drone U, the #1 drone podcast