Most flight automation apps are limited to uploading missions to the drone for execution. This approach is called onboard waypoints, and it is the reason why most apps are essentially clones of each other - they rely on the same underlying flight controller.
Dronelink supports both onboard waypoints and an alternate approach to running missions called virtual stick.
Virtual Stick (default)
Virtual stick missions send commands in real-time as a human pilot would using the sticks on a remote control. While this approach does require a constant connection to the drone, it unlocks many features in Dronelink that are not possible with onboard waypoints, such as the advanced settings on Map, Facade, and Inspection components.
The virtual stick approach also unlocks automated missions for drones that do not support onboard waypoints, such as the Mavic Mini and Mavic Air 2.
Unlike virtual stick missions, onboard waypoint missions run on the drone and this allows these types of missions to continue even while the drone is disconnected. This behavior can be desirable for certain use cases and regulatory environments, and Dronelink has several unique features that partially mitigate the inherent limitations of DJI's onboard flight controller:
Dronelink mission plans can effectively run multiple DJI Waypoint missions without requiring the user to manually open and upload each new mission. Each DJI waypoint mission is just another component of the same mission plan.
Dronelink effectively supports unlimited waypoints because missions that go over DJI's 99 waypoint limit can be split into multiple components. Each set of waypoints does need to be uploaded after the previous waypoints finish, so you do need to have a connection between components.
Dronelink allows you to convert any normal mission plan into a DJI waypoint mission plan, meaning that you can take advantage of many of the great features of the Dronelink mission planner (estimates, mission preview, etc) and there are even some optimizations for specific types of components such as:
- Path - handles bezier curves - not just straight segments between waypoints
- Map - uses waypoint actions with distance-based triggering
- Inspection - takes full advantage of waypoint actions for single-gimbal drones
Smart Mission Resuming
Dronelink supports resuming anywhere along the path of a DJI waypoint mission, not just from specific waypoints, and it automatically remembers this location (it doesn't need to ask you to enter a waypoint to resume from). Like virtual stick Dronelink missions, you can resume across batteries, devices, drones, users, etc.