DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced

Flight guidelines for inspecting solar farms with a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (M2EA) series drone with its 640x512 resolution thermal camera and 9 mm lens can meet the data requirements quickly and efficiently. It is possible to collect 70% front lap and 20% side lap thermal and RGB imagery.

Equipment

Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (M2EA)
Camera: Installed
Computer: Smart Controller
Flight Planning Software: DJI Pilot

Camera Settings

Palette: White Hot
Magnification: 1x
Photo Mode: DJI Radiometric JPEG

Flight Mission Planning Settings

There are two recommended flight planning workflows that can achieve successful solar data capture using the M2EA and DJI Pilot application. The mapping mission involves more work during the flight itself, whereas the waypoint mission involves more work during the flight planning process. The drone pilot should choose whichever workflow they feel more comfortable with

Mapping Mission:
Pros:
Flight passes (green lines) are created automatically with overlap and altitude inputs
Camera will automatically start taking pictures, the pilot does not have to start the intervalometer

Cons:
Gimbal pitch does not lock so pilot will have to manually hold the gimbal in position throughout the flight
The drone changes its heading to face each upcoming waypoint so the pilot will have to manually pause the flight and correctly reorient the drone at the end of each solar row

The following video has step by step instructions for how to setup a Mapping Mission flight plan using with the DJI M2EA with DJI Pilot. Please note there is an error with overlap settings in the video. The correct settings are side overlap: 20% and frontal overlap: 70% .

Waypoint Mission:
Pros:
Gimbal pitch and heading will stay constant throughout the flight so the pilot will only have to set this once, after the drone has reached its first waypoint

Cons:
Pilot will have to manually tap on screen to create each waypoint during flight creation
Overlap is not automatically calculated so the pilot will have to ensure they are hitting the 70% front and 20% side overlap manually
The pilot will have to manually start the photo collection process, it will not happen automatically
The pilot will also need to manually stop the photo collection process after the inspection is complete

The following video has step by step instructions of how to setup a Waypoint Mission flight plan using with the DJI M2EA with DJI Pilot:

Note: Altitude is calculated from panels, not from ground. Check local laws and regulations to determine maximum allowable altitude.

Type of Inspection Raptor Overview Raptor Standard Raptor Comprehensive
Description Ideal for rapid drone flights and string-level outages Ideal for annual preventative maintenance IEC TS 62446-3 thermography standards for Absolute Temperature Accuracy
Smallest visible features Module Diode, Hot Spot, and Cell Diode, Hot Spot, and Cell
Ground sample distance 15.0 ± 5.0 cm/pixel 5.5 ± 0.5 cm/pixel 3.0 ± 0.5 cm/pixel
Maximum speed 30 mph 12 mph 7 mph
Altitude with 9mm lens 369 ± 123 ft (112.5 ± 37.5 m) 135 ± 12 ft (41.0 ± 3.5 m) 74 ± 12 ft (22.5 ± 3.5 m)

Note: Altitude is above ground level. Check local laws and regulations to determine maximum allowable altitude.

Prior to flying, check available irradiance using a meter.This video explains how.

Image Capture

Front Overlap Ratio: 70%
Side Overlap Ratio: 20%
File Format: RJPG

Obliques

Note: Obliques / High flys are required as part of the flight. For information about how to correctly fly and take oblique images, please see Capturing Oblique Images

Data Example

The long edge of the solar row aligns with the long edge of the image.

The following animation is a great example of Standard-level imagery collected with a ground sampling distance (GSD) of 5.5 cm/pixel with good overlaps.