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Karma Flight School: Cliff Kamakazie


Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2018
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California, USA
In this thread I will be analyzing crash videos in an effort to learn more about the limitations of technology in the Karma Drone, and how to avoid such issues myself. Hopefully such analysis will help us all fly better and avoid potentially problematic flights. I'm interested in hearing from other experienced pilots regarding their observations or "tips of the trade".


The video creator made the following comment, "In which the Karma drone disconnects without warning and kamikazes into a cliff-side."

If you know how the Karma operates, it is very clear what happened in this video and the Karma, in fact, operated as it was programmed.

As has been mentioned before, The Karma remote requires direct line of sight. If you maneuver behind an object, the Karma may lose connection with the controller. When the connection is lost, the Karma will fly to the specified "safe altitude" that is programmed into the controller. It will then attempt to "Fly home" automatically. Unlike other drones, the Karma does not have avoidance sensors, so it will not avoid trees, houses, or cliffs for that matter.

The video shows that the pilot was orbiting around an interesting rock formation. On the backside (away from the pilot) the drone lost connectivity, stopped, gained altitude as programmed and headed back to home as programed.

So...how can pilots avoid this issue?

1. Fly higher. You can safely orbit an object if you are above the object and you can keep the drone in line-of sight at all times.

2. Plan for contingencies, and preset the safe return to home altitude on your controller before you fly. Had this pilot set return to home at say 400 feet, he likely would have reestablished control, before the drone started back towards the cliff. Even if he couldn't regain control, the drone would have risen high enough to fly over the cliff before returning home.

If the pilot was already at 400 feet, and lost control for some reason with his controller set to the default safe-return height, it would have drop to roughly 150 feet before proceeding directly into the cliff.

My tendency when I fly is to get out there and get my drone up in the air as soon as possible. I imagine many of us, myself included, ignore the safe return to home altitude setting, but a little bit of pre-flight preparation can go a long way in helping us avoid these kind of mishaps.
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Reactions: YVR and Phil
Love these posts. I love my Karma but also lost my first one on the Atlantic Ocean on my fifth flight. I’ve got a new one but only flown a handful of times since. Losing one sure opens your eyes.
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Reactions: Shon and Billybob

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