The Air 3 is a great drone for beginners, content creators, and enthusiasts. This is all due to the many features and functions DJI has packed into this powerful, yet cost-effective advanced drone.
DJI has really been doing a great job this year including many of the drone enthusiast’s “must have” features in their drones.
Some of these, to name a few, would be obstacle avoidance and intelligent flight features such as Active Track.
Another much sought-after feature would have to be waypoints.
In this article, I will cover what waypoint missions are, and how to set up and save waypoints on the DJI Air 3.
If you love waypoints or are getting into running waypoint missions, then this is the article for you.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
What are Waypoints?
Waypoints are a function that allows the DJI Air 3 to autonomously fly a pre-planned route while performing various actions.
These actions include automatically taking photographs and videos along the route of areas pre-designated by the drone operator.
The built-in DJI waypoint feature for consumer drones was previously only available for the Mavic 3 Series.
Many are happy to see that it has now been included in more DJI-manufactured drones. Before this, Autel had waypoint missions for years.
Before DJI added Waypoints to the DJI Fly app, the only way to get this function would, firstly, be to wait for DJI to release the SDK (software development kit) for the drone you owned.
Then, secondly, using 3rd party software, such as Litchi, to run the waypoints.
Using 3rd party solutions could be time-consuming, inconvenient, and expensive.
Time-consuming would be due to taking months for the SDK of particular drones to be released. After this, the 3rd party company would need time to build in the support for said drone model.
The inconvenience factor would come into play for those owning either DJI RC’s or RC 2’s only, since 3rd party programs cannot run on these. This created the need for additional DJI RC-N1 and N2 remote controllers.
The expense to drone operators comes in the form of having to pay for third-party software. Litchi is between 24 and 26 USD for iOS and Android devices. If you are using both, you could easily spend $40+.
Thankfully, the DJI Waypoint feature is free and included in the DJI Fly app for various makes of DJI drones and remote controllers.
Use Cases for Waypoints
As mentioned, Waypoints is an autonomous feature. Waypoint missions can be saved and reused over and over again, with the exact same parameters, if needed.
You can go to a saved waypoint location and run a previously saved mission over and over again, exactly the same every time.
Because of this, Waypoints are perfect for:
- Construction progression photos and videos
- Before and after shots
- Seasonal progression photos and videos
- Day-to-night real estate videos
How to Set Up and Run Waypoint Missions
Waypoint missions are only available when in video mode.
Basic waypoint setup:
Step 1: While in Video Mode, fly to the location where you’d like to start your waypoint and tap the Waypoints icon on the left of your screen.
Step 2: Press either the C1 button or the + symbol to add a waypoint.
After adding your first waypoint, you will see it on the mini-map to the left, as well as on the waypoint list.
Step 3: Continue flying around the area, adding as many waypoints as you need. Face the direction you would like the drone oriented when flying (although this can be changed later, as we’ll see).
When you have finished all of your waypoints, you will see the final duration, distance, and waypoint count (in parentheses) of the mission.
Modifying the Waypoints in the Current Mission
After the waypoint mission has been mapped out, there are a lot of different options to customize each and every waypoint in the mission.
To modify a waypoint action, simply click on the waypoint number you’d like to modify and adjust the parameters below:
|1 – 3x
|Take a Photo
|3 – 9x
Additionally, all options can be modified at any time, after the mission has been saved, as we’ll soon discuss.
If you need to delete waypoints, simply select the desired waypoint. You’ll enter the modification screen for your chosen waypoint. From there, press the delete icon.
To view your current waypoints, tap the mini-map in the bottom left-hand corner. To go back to the live view/camera view, tap that area again.
Running the Waypoint Mission
After all individual waypoint options have been adjusted to your liking there are a few steps involved with actually running the mission.
Before running the mission, there are global mission-based settings that can likewise be set. We’ll look at those as well.
Step 1: Press the back arrow on the waypoint modification screen. If you made no modifications to any of the waypoints, see Step 2.
Step 2: Press next on the right-hand side of the waypoint section.
Step 3: You can either press GO on this next screen or change the final overall flight settings first and then press go.
The flight settings are below the next picture.
Final Flight Settings:
|End of Flight
|On Signal Lost
|1 – 3x
|Choose any Waypoint
|3 – 9x
|Back to Start
After pressing GO, wherever the drone is in the air, it will then proceed to the first waypoint, adjust the height, heading, and gimbal tilt, and then proceed to run the mission.
Saving the Waypoint Mission
Any waypoint mission can be saved upon completion.
The automatic way of doing so would be by exiting the Waypoint function entirely. At this point, upon exit, you will be prompted to either save the mission and exit or exit without saving.
You can also manually save your waypoint mission.
To manually save your mission:
Step 1: Press the Save icon, which looks like a sheet of paper.
Step 2: You will be brought to the Waypoint History screen, with your current waypoint mission on the top. Press SAVE.
Step 3: Choose between either Save, which will save the mission as a generic file name, or Save As, which will allow you to save the mission as something recognizable.
Your newly saved waypoint mission will now show up with the date the mission was saved.
Creating Remote Waypoint Missions
One of the great things about the waypoint mission planner is that you do not have to be at the location where you would like to fly to create waypoints.
For this article, I created a mission miles from my home point to test and see if it would work.
I created the mission one day, then drove to the location the mission would run the next day and ran the mission.
This could prove to be very useful for those who need to plan client or commercial missions prior to getting on location.
Additionally, with the ability to modify waypoints in the mission planner, any height and action adjustments can be made once on location and surveying the mission site.
Here are a few things to know and do prior to setting up waypoints remotely:
- The Air 3 and remote controller must be powered on and connected to the internet. This is needed for the waypoints to use the map feature.
- Instead of using the C1 button or + symbol, tap the screen at the designated waypoint location to add the waypoint.
- Any waypoints can be modified at any time after the mission is saved. Even remotely.
To remotely create a waypoint mission:
Step 1: While both the Air 3 and remote controller are on, tap on the area map in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Then expand the area map in the camera view screen.
Step 2: Open the waypoint mode by pressing the waypoint icon.
Step 3: Locate the area on the map you would like to place your first waypoint. Tap the area with your finger to set the waypoint. Continue to do this for all the waypoints needed.
Step 4: Save the waypoint mission by tapping on the save icon.
Step 5: Either Save the mission or do a Save As and name the mission something custom.
Step 6: Exit the waypoint mission planner.