Drones are incredible machines that can take beautiful aerial photographs, carry out several jobs, and provide hours of entertainment. However, there are dangers and difficulties associated with flying a drone, such as losing signal, running out of energy, or hitting obstructions.
Due to this, many drones today have a feature called Return to Home (RTH) that can prevent crashes and lost drones.
However, what precisely is RTH and how does it operate? Everything you need to know about drone return to home, including its types, advantages, restrictions, and best practices for usage, will be covered in this article.
Table of Contents
- A characteristic that is autonomous is drone return to home (RTH).
- Drones can use it to autonomously return to their starting point or where their remote controller is located.
- Low battery levels, a broken remote controller connection, or pilot activation manually can all cause RTH to occur.
- RTH relies on GPS information and imaging sensors for navigation.
- RTH has the advantage of reducing accidents and drone loss while also improving convenience.
- The shortcomings of RTH include its reliance on GPS precision, compatibility issues with specific attachments, and limitations in specific flight situations.
- Check settings prior to takeoff, keep an eye on flight status while in flight, and cancel or pause RTH as needed if you want to use RTH safely and successfully.
- For some drone models, it is possible to modify the RTH settings and flight modes.
- RTH requires that interference and obstructions be avoided.
- For RTH accuracy and stability, the drone’s compass and IMU must be calibrated.
- To use RTH effectively, the right knowledge, setup, and safety measures are needed.
What is Drone Return to Home?
An autonomous function called “return to home” is driven by a mix of image sensors and GPS information1. It functions as you might expect it to: it sends the drone back to its starting point, which is known as its “home.”
The remote controller’s location or the takeoff point can both be specified by the drone’s pilot as the RTH location. One of three things may start the RTH function:
- Low Battery RTH: This occurs when the drone realizes its battery is too low to allow for safe flight. The drone will automatically fly back to the home location after reaching a predetermined height. The drone will promptly land wherever it is if the battery is severely low.
- Failsafe RTH: When the drone loses contact with the remote controller for a prolonged period of time, failsafe RTH occurs. A predetermined height will also be reached before the drone returns to its starting place. The pilot has the option to revoke the RTH or assume control if the link is established again.
- Smart RTH: When the pilot presses the RTH button on the remote control or app manually, smart RTH occurs. The drone will return to its starting place using a predetermined flight path. The RTH may be stopped or abandoned at any time by the pilot.
Benefits of Drone Return to Home?
The main advantage of drone return to home is that, in the event of an emergency or mistake, it can stop your drone from crashing or getting lost. For instance, you can count on RTH to bring your drone back safely if you fly it too far and lose sight of it, or if you experience heavy winds or signal interference.
Your flying experience may be made more convenient and delightful as a result of drone return to home. For instance, you can utilize RTH to have your drone fly back automatically if you want to conclude your trip fast and effortlessly or if you just want to concentrate on taking pictures or movies without thinking about navigation.
Limitations of Drone Return to Home?
Drone return to home is a trustworthy and practical feature, but it is not without flaws and has some restrictions that you should be aware of. For instance:
- RTH depends on GPS accuracy: Your drone might not be able to return to the precise home location or avoid obstacles along the way if it lacks a strong GPS signal or if there are mistakes in the GPS data.
- RTH may not work in some situations: RTH might not function properly or be able to be activated in specific circumstances, such as when a drone is flying indoors, beneath a bridge, or in a prohibited location.
- RTH may not be compatible with some accessories: Your drone might not be able to recognize the weight or size of a payload or a propeller guard attached to it and adapt its flight accordingly. Its speed, altitude, and stability during RTH may be impacted by this.
How to Use Drone Return to Home Safely and Effectively?
You must adhere to a few recommended practices and guidelines before and throughout your flight in order to use drone return back home securely and effectively. For instance:
- Check your settings before takeoff: Make that your drone has a sufficient supply of batteries, a reliable GPS signal, and a visible home point. Additionally, alter your RTH height in accordance with the surroundings’ terrain and obstructions.
- Monitor your flight status during flight: Monitoring your battery life, signal quality, and distance from the home point are important. Watch out for any prompts or warnings that appear on your screen that point to an RTH scenario.
- Cancel or pause RTH if necessary: If required, stop or halt RTH. You can stop or pause RTH and take over control if you notice that your drone is traveling in the wrong direction or toward a dangerous area. If you wish to, you can also start RTH again.
- Use Landing Protection and Precision Landing if available: Whenever possible, use Precision Landing and Landing Protection: Some drones, like DJI drones, offer cutting-edge technologies that can aid in a precise and safe drone landing. Precision Landing may compare the present view with the recorded view of the home point, and Landing Protection can determine whether the landing region is safe or not.
How to Customize Your RTH Settings and Flight Modes
You might be able to alter your RTH settings and flight modes to suit your preferences and requirements, depending on the drone type and software you’re using. For instance, you might be able to alter the parameters listed below:
- RTH height: This is the altitude your drone will reach before returning to the starting location. Depending on the surrounding terrain and obstructions, you can adjust it higher or lower. Make sure it is both high enough to prevent collisions and low enough to adhere to local laws.
- RTH speed: This is the speed at which your drone will be flying during RTH. Depending on the flight circumstances and your battery level, you can adjust the speed. Make sure it is not too slow to risk running out of power, but neither too rapid to jeopardize the steadiness of your drone.
- RTH direction: This is the path your drone will take during RTH. You have the option of setting it to fly directly back to the starting place or to take a recorded or planned flight path. If there are obstructions or interferences along the path, the latter method might be safer and more effective.
- RTH landing: When your drone arrives at the home location, it will perform an RTH landing. You have the option of having it land automatically, hover until you take control, or hover until you turn off RTH. Additionally, some drones offer cutting-edge capabilities like Precision Landing and Landing Protection that can help your drone land safely.
You must open the drone control app, such as DJI GO/4 or iNav Configurator, in order to alter your RTH settings and flight modes.
Then, you must locate the menu or tab, such as Intelligent Flight Modes, Return To Home Settings, or Navigation Settings, that allows you to modify these settings. Before making any modifications, you might need to connect your drone to the app.
Prior to flying in a real situation, make sure to test and save your specific RTH settings and flight modes. If necessary, you can also change settings and modes while in flight, but you should always be cautious and pay close attention.
How to Avoid Obstacles and Interference During RTH
When using RTH, one of the difficulties is that your drone could run into obstructions or interference on the route back to the home point. Your drone might crash, become lost, or fail to land securely as a result of this.
As a result, it’s critical to take some safety precautions and precautionary measures. Following are some pointers for preventing obstructions and interference during RTH:
- Choose a safe and clear flight path: Make sure there are no obstructions in the drone’s flight path before activating RTH, such as structures, trees, power lines, or bodies of water. The route that your drone will take can be shown on the map in your app. The camera view can also be used to see what is in front of your drone. You can stop RTH and manually fly your drone to a safer area if you spot any possible dangers.
- Set a high enough RTH height: Set a high enough RTH height so that when you turn on RTH, your drone will soar to that height before returning to its home location. In your app’s settings, you can modify this height in accordance with the surrounding terrain and obstructions. Make sure it is both high enough to prevent collisions and low enough to adhere to local laws. Setting your RTH height at least 10 meters above the highest obstacle in your vicinity is a decent general rule of thumb.
- Minimize interference by avoiding electromagnetic sources: Sometimes, electromagnetic interference from adjacent sources, like as base stations, radio transmission towers, or power lines, can cause your drone to lose signal or GPS accuracy. This may impair your drone’s ability to precisely and safely return home. Avoid flying close to these sources, and keep your drone in your line of sight, to reduce this risk. Additionally, you should ensure sure your app’s GPS signal and signal strength are robust and stable.
- Use obstacle avoidance sensors if available: Some drones, like DJI drones, have sensors inside that can recognize and steer clear of obstructions during RTH. Depending on the settings in your drone’s software and model, these sensors can operate in a variety of orientations and modes. For instance, some drones can brake and hover until you take over control while others can fly around obstacles horizontally or vertically. As they might not function in low-light conditions or be able to identify thin things like tree branches or power wires, you shouldn’t rely only on these sensors.
How to Calibrate Your Drone’s Compass and IMU Before RTH
To verify your drone’s GPS accuracy and stability before using RTH, you need calibrate its compass and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). The compass and IMU are sensors that gauge the temperature, altitude, acceleration, and orientation of your drone.
Your drone might not be able to navigate obstacles or return to the home point if they are not calibrated correctly.
You must adhere to the directions on your app or manual that are relevant to your drone model in order to calibrate the compass and IMU on your drone. Here are some standard procedures and advice that typically apply to drones:
- Calibrate your compass: Your drone uses the compass to navigate and find its position. To calibrate it, you must locate a sizable outside area devoid of any adjacent metal structures or sources of interference. In order to calibrate the compass, you must first link your drone to your app. You’ll be asked to rotate your drone 360 degrees while holding it horizontally, then 360 degrees while holding it vertically. When the calibration is successful, you will receive a confirmation message on your app.
- Calibrate your IMU: The accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, and thermometer make up the IMU. It supports the speed, altitude, attitude, and temperature measurements of your drone. You must position your drone on a level, flat surface that is not vibrating or moving in order to calibrate it. The next step is to connect your drone to your app and choose the IMU calibration option. Your drone will be asked to remain still while the calibration process is being done. When the calibration is successful, you will receive a confirmation message on your app.
Before each flight or if you detect any unusual behavior or performance from your drone, you should calibrate its compass and IMU. Additionally, you must calibrate them after changing locations, having a hard landing, or experiencing a crash.
In conclusion, drone Return to Home (RTH) is a useful feature that can improve drone owners’ flying experiences in terms of convenience, safety, and all-around enjoyment. In situations like low battery or a loss of connection with the remote controller, RTH enables drones to independently return to their assigned home location using imaging sensors and GPS data.
While RTH has several advantages, such as the ability to prevent collisions and the ability to concentrate on recording media, it also has drawbacks related to GPS accuracy, accessory compatibility, and specific flight situations.
Users can use RTH to improve their drone flying experience safely and effectively by adhering to best practices, changing RTH settings, avoiding obstructions and interference, and calibrating the drone’s compass and IMU.
How do I get my drone to return home?
Most drones have a Return to Home (RTH) function that allows the drone to return to its takeoff location. To use this feature, you need to record your Home Point with at least 10 satellite GPS connections. Your Home Point can be your drone’s location before taking off, or it can be where ever your remote controller is .
There are three types of RTH modes: Smart RTH, Low Battery RTH, and Failsafe RTH. Smart RTH allows users to command the drone to return to the Home Point when tapping on the RTH button on the remote controller or the DJI GO 4 app. Low Battery RTH is triggered when the drone’s battery level depletes to a specified level and the drone will return to the Home Point. Failsafe RTH brings your drone back to the Home Point if it happens to lose signal when connected to a remote controller or through Wi-Fi .
Do all DJI drones have a return to home feature?
Yes, DJI drones have a Return to Home (RTH) feature. This is a useful safety feature that helps bring your drone back to a safe, accessible landing location. There are three types of RTH modes: Smart RTH, Low Battery RTH, and Failsafe RTH.