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Karma Flight School: Karma and the Train

This drone crash was due to:

  • Pilot error

  • Equipment failure.

  • A combination of equipment failure and pilot error


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Shon

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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".


ANALYSIS:
Pilot says he had "no control" at 1:38. I question how accurate his statement is, given that from 1:38 to 2:24 we see slight adjustments with the camera, along with a slight back and forth rotation of the drone. Given the location he is flying, I wouldn't doubt if he lost GPS, making the piloting job much more difficult. Is the statement a typo? did he mean 2:38?

At 2:38 it appears that the camera swung back to catch the train getting ready to depart the platform. I almost thought that this is the point where he lost control, and the drone is on auto RTH mode. But after watching it through several times...that doesn't make sense either. Look how the drone pauses for the train. Watch how the drone increases altitude, pauses for a moment, and then increases altitude again. Does the drone fly back to the starting position at full speed? No. it meanders for a while, until it hovers over a building and hangs around long enough to film some folks sitting on the steps at 4:44. Does that appear to be an "out of control" drone to you?

The pilot is wearing a distinctive blue shirt with orange sleeves, yet I don't see him in the rest of the video. Where is he standing in relationship to the drone? I suspect that at 4:44 the pilot is standing behind the drone and out of shot. You can still see his young child sitting near the drone case on the left side of the frame, so I imagine he is close by. At 4:46, you can see a child looking at the drone and quickly off to the right and behind the shot. Is he smiling at the pilot?

The only time the drone appears to be out of control is at 4:56 after it hits a tree. The drone could be damaged at the point that it hit the tree. Even losing a single prop could cause catastrophic failure. I could see why it would lose control at that point. After hitting the tree, I don't see any tell-tell signs that the pilot has control. I don't see the camera moving back and forth, I don't see the drone rotating back and forth, I just see the drone headed towards a crash, with the pilot maybe trying to give it altitude to avoid a crash into the water? I do see a large tower in the shot at 5:03. Did that tower cause interference? I kind of doubt it.

SUMMARY:
Without the flight info from the drone and controller, we can't be sure...but I suspect that this pilot did loose control of his drone, AFTER he crashed into a tree. Given his choice of flying location, I'm amazed that he didn't lose control even earlier, and that he didn't injure anyone. Maybe he did lose GPS, maybe he didn't...but it appears that he had control up until 4:56.

The Karma gets a bad rap for "fly aways". I've certainly seen videos where this happens, or where the drone loses power and falls from the sky unexpectedly. If the pilot really did lose control due to equipment failure, shame on GoPro. BUT, if the pilot crashed his own drone, and wants to blame it on Gopro, Shame on him! Karma has it's share if issues, but this doesn't appear to be a Karma issue.

Does anyone out there see it differently?
 
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JudoSurfer

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It looks like he loses GPS twice, early on and right after we see the smiling child. In either case, it appears to be pilot error/inexperience. We don't know the # of satellites available for lock or kp index on this particular day but the flying location is certainly a poor choice. Also, the dark overcast sky makes flying questionable and possibly playing a part in Ionosphere and troposphere delays in the GPS signal.
 
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