Five things to consider before deploying an autonomous DJI Dock System

February 5, 2024

Written by AUTHOR NAME

Since DJI launched it’s autonomous Dock system in 2023, drone-in-a-box systems are now considered mainstream, with many mining, security and agricultural companies considering how they can replace manual data capture workflows with this new cost-effective solution.

While the Dock technology is well-developed and pretty fool-proof - as to be expected with any DJI product – practical implementation on site is more complex and requires the following considerations:

1.   Regulatory Requirements

Regulatory approval is an extensive process involving not only the development of a suite of practices and procedures, but also the set up of a remote operating center and a practical demonstration to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) approvals for each operational area, along with approvals for each operating center are required before any flying may take place. Extensive SORA (specific operational risks assessments) documentation to support each of these sites is also necessary for successful approval from the regulatory authority.

2.   Electrical Requirements & On-going Maintenance

Initial proof of concepts with the Dock system have largely been conducted next to existing structures, however, the true use-case will be deployment to sites where electrical points may not exist or may be too costly to install.

Only companies which can successfully support remote deployment with tailored systems for electrical supply – for example, with specially designed, self-sufficient skids or solar power – will be able to properly implement the dock in isolated locations.

Further to this, a regular maintenance programme and support team is required to ensure that the systems remain within regulatory approval and are operationally fit to sustain harsh conditions.

3.   Data Security

The storage and access to data has always been a major concern for companies when collecting of geospatial data, and the integration of the DJI Dock is no different

Setup of a Media Files Transfer option on DJI’s Flight Hub software allows you to automatically direct raw media files straight from the Dock to your local network drive, company cloud storage or nominated geospatial platform for further processing.

4.   Data Connectivity

With the DJI Dock everything happens in real-time, providing key insights into various aspects of operations, this can include:

-       Live operations, such as providing real-time video feeds in the case of emergencies

-       On-site Edge processing of imagery

-       Live weather monitoring and site condition reporting

As such proper data connectivity – particularly in remote areas – is key to ensuring smooth and continuous operations.

5.   Remote Operations Control Centre

Purchasing a M30T or Mavic 3 Enterprise and flying the hardware manually on site with a pilot may seem like a more cost-effective solution, but this is not always scalable.

Witha Remote Operating Centre, you are able to conduct one- to- many operations with a single pilot controlling multiple flights. There is also an added safety aspect of removing staff from hazardous site areas.  

Outsourcing this aspect of your operations will also ensure that your highly experienced surveyors or engineers can focus on other critical tasks of their role within the organization. Established drone service providers such as RocketDNA are able to provide a tailored and fully integrated drone-in-a-box solution; taking care of all maintenance, compliance and legislative requirements as well.