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WTF DJI?... [email protected]!?!!!! First Spark flyaway

dropro

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Jun 12, 2017
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IMG_7860.JPG IMG_7863.JPG IMG_7864.JPG The fact you are reading this here means that an international incident was averted....

I was already seeing the headlines: drone decapotates innocent bystanders and crashes through a national cathedral monument in Berlin.

I'm still shaking as I write this. And bleeding also...
Took my spark to a large open square next to the French cathedral in Berlin.
Fully charged, turned on. It told me it had a firmware update. I didn't have a good data connection so I decided I would do it when I get a good wifi signal at the hotel.
Gave me a warning to fly safely in this zone and I acknowledged.
The square was relatively empty so decided I would fly it with gestures.
Waited for safe to fly and ready. Double clicked the button and it took off my hand. But instead of hovering in front of me, it shot up 3m above ground.
Strange I thought to myself....

So it was hovering but camera was not pointed at me and it was too high for hand gesture for positioning so I decided to use the iPhone for control. Moved it a tad. Wanted to turn the camera on, but button was greyed out. Strange again I thought...

Things started to go downhill from here.
I was not confident in the drone so I hit the land button and then slide to land.
At this point the drone tilted and started zooming full speed towards the glass windows of the French cathedral. It was following an arc trajectory while loosing height.
I started running after it like crazy.
I can see it barely missing heads of two bystanders by no more than 10 inches. As it's getting closer to the windows it curves barely missing a statue and continues to curve.
I quickly evaluate its path and start adjusting my run. At this point we are headed one towards each other. I'm determined to take this bird out!
I reach and snap my hands one from top and one from bottom. Propellers dig into my skin; 6 fingers bleeding, but international incident averted!

I am one that promotes safe flight. I don't like it when people fly irresponsibly and I felt in those seconds helpless. This bird was outta control! And worst, this incident with a different outcome, would have made the wrong kind of headlines resulting in more NFZs and more regulations...

WTF DJI?
That's not what we expect of this spark!

Disclaimer: my adrenaline is still running high. I have to check and see if there is a log of the flight and what happened. I'm not sure I clicked land. Maybe I'm confusing this with another flight? Could I have clicked something else? What would make it zoom so fast away from me?

So many questions. So few answers.
Any procedure for retrieving the logs?
 
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Aloha-boy

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Jun 14, 2017
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Oh man that sucks to hear! Keep us posted in what you find out, if its pilot or hardware/software error.
 

Bubbles!!!

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Did you get a compass calibration error or calibrate it recently? That's what most people who lost their Mavic's had errors with.
Also, did you accidentally put it into sport mode without realizing it? (the switch put to the right on the middle of the remote controller)
And finally, did you drop the remote/phone on the ground once you ran, stick in in your pocket, or leave it in your hand in a death grip till you alligator caught the drone?
That really sucks, I like everyone else here I'd bet, was hoping to not hear one of these stories... But thank you for telling! I'll be super cautious with my drone once I fly it! (My first flights will be between a hurricane shelter rated school, and a major highway, nothing bad could ever come from that!!!... ;))
 

dropro

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No compass error no calibration error no remote control to turn it to sports mode.
No death grip: remember it started to flyaway before I ran after it, so it wasn't a death grip.
I'm really bummed. Flying is supposed to be fun, not stressful!
 

shorttimer

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Well I'm certainly glad you're okay and commend you on your effort of getting it before it caused any bodily or physical damage to something like an ancient cathedral. I really enjoy the DJI drones and have a number of them including the Spark I ordered just as soon as I could. But with it flying so low, and most people won't use propeller guards, and people fly around other people I just think there will be a number of issues like this surfacing. Many people don't read the user manual or watch the videos - I'm not talking about the original poster and pilot in this case - just look as some of the questions that get asked by people on the P3, Mavic and Spark forums. But as these things get simpler and simpler to fly, just about everyone is doing it and when you have something with unguarded propellers spinning at thousands RPM and people close by unwelcome events will happen whether by pilot error or even a hardware/software error. Even if it is one in 10,000 flights it is too many. Again, nothing against the pilot in this case I am just expressing my feelings and thoughts.
 
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Xanth

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Sounds like gesture confusion to me. The quick jump to 3 meters should mean that it went into selfie mode...which happened to me once when I kept trying to get it to lock on my open hand. The rest is straight bat craziness.
 

aviscomi

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@dropro Just out of curiosity...how many times have you flown this Spark prior to this mishap?
 
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Steve P

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I guess you learned a lesson dont fly when there is a firmware update until you can update the quad. Responsible flying is your responsibility
 
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dropro

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I am amazed at some of the comments here.
I am a very experienced pilot owning all dji quads since the p2v.
As to gesture confusion- that is absolutely not the case. You obviously did not read my review of gesture flying.
The selfie mode sends the drone back and up not straight up. Also it goes much further away and it does all that while pointing the camera at the operator.
The other thing is that it straight released out of my hand to this height, so didn't even get to do a gesture.
Finally, regarding the firmware update - of course if I could do it I would have. I had flown the spark plenty of times before and none of these behaviors manifested. Of course this does not mean that the firmware update could not solve this issue. If this is indeed the problem that the firmware addressed, dji should have made the drone unflyable without the update. This can easily be done but was not.

We will figure out what the problem is, but it will have to be through analysis and not random guessing which does not even correspond to the facts I stated.
 
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aviscomi

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I don't think that anyone is doubting your piloting skills. Though anyone that has spent any time reading some of the MANY issues surrounding the Spark on this forum may have been a bit more cautious about selecting where to fly it. At least until some of the kinks are worked out.
 

dropro

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I don't think that anyone is doubting your piloting skills. Though anyone that has spent any time reading some of the MANY issues surrounding the Spark on this forum may have been a bit more cautious about selecting where to fly it. At least until some of the kinks are worked out.
Of course I was being cautious. I tried to land it as soon as I saw it was behaving incorrectly.

You are referencing many issues with the spark on this forum.... hmmmm.... where? I am the first one to my knowledge to report on the spark and on this issue. First flights I did were all in controlled environments.
We are not beta testers.
It is only through real life experience we are going to figure out the bugs.
Let's focus on understanding the root cause.
What about a procedure for getting the logs?
 

Kentech5

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I am amazed at some of the comments here.
I am a very experienced pilot owning all dji quads since the p2v.
As to gesture confusion- that is absolutely not the case. You obviously did not read my review of gesture flying.
The selfie mode sends the drone back and up not straight up. Also it goes much further away and it does all that while pointing the camera at the operator.
The other thing is that it straight released out of my hand to this height, so didn't even get to do a gesture.
Finally, regarding the firmware update - of course if I could do it I would have. I had flown the spark plenty of times before and none of these behaviors manifested. Of course this does not mean that the firmware update could not solve this issue. If this is indeed the problem that the firmware addressed, dji should have made the drone unflyable without the update. This can easily be done but was not.

We will figure out what the problem is, but it will have to be through analysis and not random guessing which does not even correspond to the facts I stated.
I'm glad no bystanders were hurt and good on you for stopping the drone from causing any damage. This is the first I've heard of a Spark going this level of crazy and it could have happened to anyone.
 

Mako79

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One thing i never do is update firmware when on holidays. I am scared that the firmware will brick the device and then i would have to spend hours online trying to fix the device and not enjoy the holidays. Worse case that you may be one device short on a trip. Eg. All your details, maps, booking info are soft-copied on your phone. If you brick your phone due a firmware update, you will have to go find another phone and hope your data is backed up.

The other thing i do after a firmware update on my DJI product(s) is checking all the settings and making sure they haven't all defaulted to factory. I recheck the IMU. I give it a full charge. I then take it to an open grassy field and redo compass dance (not compulsory) and then do basic 10ft hover and a few basic maneuvers until battery warning pops up.

The flyaway in your case could be a number of things. You will need to access your flight logs.
I am thinking that your vision system went cross-eyed and maybe mistaken a bird's wings for a hand gesture.. I dunno...

Maybe too much rebar in the ground??
 

aviscomi

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I am amazed at some of the comments here.
I am a very experienced pilot owning all dji quads since the p2v.
As to gesture confusion- that is absolutely not the case. You obviously did not read my review of gesture flying.
The selfie mode sends the drone back and up not straight up. Also it goes much further away and it does all that while pointing the camera at the operator.
The other thing is that it straight released out of my hand to this height, so didn't even get to do a gesture.
Finally, regarding the firmware update - of course if I could do it I would have. I had flown the spark plenty of times before and none of these behaviors manifested. Of course this does not mean that the firmware update could not solve this issue. If this is indeed the problem that the firmware addressed, dji should have made the drone unflyable without the update. This can easily be done but was not.

We will figure out what the problem is, but it will have to be through analysis and not random guessing which does not even correspond to the facts I stated.
You're right...I stand corrected on all points, please disregard my prior post. I was unable to locate any posts at all in regards to gesture/hand release flying issues within any forum. It also performs great with both of my Sparks 100% of the time.
 

Bubbles!!!

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Just in case this happens to anyone else or something else bad is about to happen, the spark has a safety feature built in to it to "crash" the drone. I don't know if mobile is compatible with it or not, it would be stupid if it wasn't. You hold both sticks, or thumb-pad inputs on the screen in this case, down and out or down and in for 1.5 seconds. It will stop the motors effectively shutting down any malicious intent the drone's little (big) brain had ;)
It also gives a fair warning saying it will crash the drone in the manual... My thoughts are just run and catch it before it hits the ground if possible.

DJI Spark Manual
Bottom of page 48 - top of page 49

I have a lot of time on my hands so before I even bought the drone I read the entire manual and memorized most of it............... o_O
 
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Nikon1

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Just in case this happens to anyone else or something else bad is about to happen, the spark has a safety feature built in to it to "crash" the drone. I don't know if mobile is compatible with it or not, it would be stupid if it wasn't. You hold both sticks, or thumb-pad inputs on the screen in this case, down and out or down and in for 1.5 seconds. It will stop the motors effectively shutting down any malicious intent the drone's little (big) brain had ;)
It also gives a fair warning saying it will crash the drone in the manual... My thoughts are just run and catch it before it hits the ground if possible.

DJI Spark Manual
Bottom of page 48 - top of page 49

I have a lot of time on my hands so before I even bought the drone I read the entire manual and memorized most of it............... o_O

Thank you for that tip. I did get the FlyMore so I've been cautiously flying with the RC - but that's a great "Oh, $HIT - It's out of control" tip to remember.

Nothing against the OP -- Just speaking for myself.
 

shorttimer

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Just in case this happens to anyone else or something else bad is about to happen, the spark has a safety feature built in to it to "crash" the drone. I don't know if mobile is compatible with it or not, it would be stupid if it wasn't. You hold both sticks, or thumb-pad inputs on the screen in this case, down and out or down and in for 1.5 seconds. It will stop the motors effectively shutting down any malicious intent the drone's little (big) brain had ;)
It also gives a fair warning saying it will crash the drone in the manual... My thoughts are just run and catch it before it hits the ground if possible.

DJI Spark Manual
Bottom of page 48 - top of page 49

I have a lot of time on my hands so before I even bought the drone I read the entire manual and memorized most of it............... o_O
Yea, the CSC. Is there an option like in the Mavic to select either for emergency only or just CSC. For emergencies only I believe it has to have a critical error for the CSC command to shut down the motors in flight. Selecting CSC it shuts down the motor in flight regardless as long as you perform the CSC. I got my Spark on Friday but haven't had time to do anything with it at all - not even charge the batteries.
 

lmk

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Oh...sorry to hear the spark went out of control. I just got home after flying using phone and hand gesture mode. Fortunately all are ok....please do update us on what you found out after extraction of your flight data.
I believe should be same as Mavic pro using the USB and the app. I have not tried it though. But for Mavic I did extract it when it went out of control in China Shangri-la.
 

digata

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Id not trust gesture mode or just mobile phone wifi in a public place, I can see more of this happening and plenty of crashed sparks, this is why i got the remote control and use a cable.. and only use manual flights as this is still in the early stages with a new drone.
Im not doubting your skills ect but i will doubt your safety thinking.. a public structure and people around in a public place and they in a congested area in another country.
Your lucky your not in a cell..
But hey enjoy what you do but fly safe and responsible. and no this is not having a go at you, just how i would think
 

dropro

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Had the same incident happen again. See my other post: Spark goes haywire, again!
I have reported to DJI, with logs a week ago - but they are keeping silent. In the meantime I have seen others posting the same behavior. This is not a coincidence- something is seriously wrong and this device is not reliable nor safe to fly. I strongly urge everyone to stop flying until dji fixes this issue- otherwise, something bad is going to happen, and the consequences will ruin this hobby forever.
 

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