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S2 fly-away due to malfunctioning GPS and/or bad programming. Skydio support says "beat it."

scrampker

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I've been flying my S2 for years without issue -- other than the UNEXCUSABLY POOR radio range, which everyone is aware of by now. About two weeks ago, I wanted to get some sunset footage near my home. I took it up in my driveway, and I kept getting an error that there was no GPS, and it gave me two options, which I had never seen before. One of them was auto-motion. I selected that, but I decided to land the drone after about 3 minutes of flight anyways, out of an abundance of caution. By the time I landed the drone had encountered over 5 minutes of open sky. This normally results in an instant lock.

Without turning off the S2, I took it back up with roughly 75% battery, thinking SURELY it would get GPS. I was right -- and it was right there on the map, along with the home point. Cool, the drone no longer has a height limitation. Good to go, right? I flew about 1,000 feet away and was getting some great pre-sunset footage, when I started to get some garbled video. Knowing full well that I needed to rotate so the rear of the drone is facing me, I started that maneuver. The link dropped completely.

I was shocked when the signal did not reconnect within 30 seconds. I waited about 4 minutes in my driveway before driving out with my controller+phone and Beacon, just in case. I circled the last-known area for 20-30 minutes. Nothing. I walked the line from the last-known to my driveway. The whole distance through little parks and fields. Nothing. I have tons of cuts from thorns to prove my journey. I can confirm that the last-known GPS location matches exactly where I was flying, and even the orientation of the drone.

Of course I immediately send the flight logs to Skydio support, because this was the first time I've experienced anything like this. If they could somehow tell me where it went or what the behavior should be, I could still retrieve it. Of course I didn't get any sort of useful response time, so it would have been gone regardless. It is what it is.

Here is the final analysis from Skydio:
After reviewing the flight logs, it appears that the GPS lock was not acquired prior to fully initiating the flight and the device struggled to maintain sufficient connection throughout the majority of the flight. After the connection was lost for an extended period of time, the Skydio initiated landing. Unfortunately, your device is no longer covered by our limited warranty due to its age in addition this incident would not be covered due to our flight guidelines.

Moving forward the best way to avoid a similar scenario from occurring is to acquire sufficient GPS lock before initiating flight.

GPS quality is not guaranteed or solely dependent on your Skydio, circumstances outside of our control can contribute to a lack of sufficient GPS similar to how cellular service can be spotty in certain areas on occasion. While I can't offer insight on what may have caused this on this occasion, monitoring the satellite lock gauge in the Skydio app will help you in determining if a stable flight is possible.

9 satellites locked is the minimum required for the flight over land while 20 are suggested for a flight over water.

Confirming your return to a home point as well as preferred lost signal behaviors before each flight is best practice.

These are my takeaways:
  • The drone allegedly did not get GPS lock during the first 1m 46s flight, with a total of nearly 5 minutes of clear sky coverage while powered on.
  • The second flight of roughly 6 minutes, or a grand total of 10-12 minutes of clear sky coverage STILL did not get a GPS lock. (yet this is not indication of malfunctioning hardware somehow.)
  • The drone WAS actually well aware of it's own position the entire flight and being relayed back to my phone, since that was on the map in real-time.
  • The drone knew where the home point was, since it was also shown right on the map from the moment of take-off.
  • If the drone really did just pause and make an emergency landing, then I would have been able to recover it. I was 60 seconds away by foot. It absolutely did NOT land where it was. It flew off in some insane direction and caused who knows what kind of damage. What if it ran into a person, airplane, etc?
  • The S2 is programmed, by design, to randomly land when it loses signal, despite knowing where it is in three-dimensional space, and perfect relation to the home point and radio signals.

Skydio ignored that last bullet-point entirely, and basically said to screw-off. They claimed that I should be MANUALLY aware that I don't have 9 satellites locked (over land,) and 20 satellites locked over water -- which is already insane. It seems like the best-case scenario is we have a bizarre logic decision on the drone's behalf, due to a malfunction, or perhaps bug in firmware. Worst-case scenario is that it performed as-designed, and intentionally flew away/landed despite knowing that's the wrong move.

All my friends that I've talked to say eff that company, don't buy an S2+, even though I have a whole suite of accessories that I could re-use. It's tempting, but also I'm feeling a bit jaded to buy a $2,500 drone with special coverage/concierge service. Not once did I get special support for any of the issues I experienced... Marketed like getting white-glove service.

Anyone else in a similar situation and actually purchase a replacement? If so, what was your rationale/thought process? I'm shocked they didn't even offer a good-will discount of some kind.
 

kenmavic2zoom

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i cant comment on so many points you've made but i can share some of my experience. for about a week, it seems i frequently got the error msg, no gps. i am presented with the option and i always chose to let the drone auto move to acquire. after that, i never had a bad flight but who can say for sure. im not familiar enough to claim "right there on the map along with a home point" means you got a sufficient gps lock to fly safely.

eventually i stop taking off from ground and now i only hand launch the drone and it swings around to get a tracking lock and i never see the gps message again. never less than 2 connections, either rc and beacon or beacon and phone.

my question for you, when your drone disconnected, did you see it fly off? certainly you were flying within visual line of sight so maybe describe what you saw. you say the drone did not land and it absolutely flew off, so is this what you saw?

your drone did not cause any damage, don't worry; that's a myth. drones that malfunction and fly off are harmless and last i checked, nobody has been hurt and no property has been damaged by a flyaway drone. yours is not the first.

i would get the s2+. i previously had the s2 and personally i believe the 2+ has better connectivity especially with the new beacon. and get skydio care so you don't have to worry about such mishaps. good luck!
 

scrampker

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I think based on the battery life remaining it definitely could have flown far enough away to be a serious hazard. The main question is why Skydio would intentionally program the drone to do anything but fly back to the home point. Even a landing in-place would be nonsensical.

get skydio care so you don't have to worry about such mishaps. good luck!
Not sure you've seen the dozens of threads here where Skydio Care is ignored, or if you're just trolling. State Farm PAP is the only way to go.


Additionally I'm not hearing that the s2 has better range. Seems similar. There's only so much you can do with a straight-up WiFi signal.
 

Ridefreak

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I can't speak to the SD care other then to say they've been pretty decent to me. I can share some weird GPS issues I've seen. I'm convinced there was a change during one of the updates that prompted this issue. Twice so far it's gone off the rails just after takeoff. One time it stood off and would track my position but at a significant distance (500 yards of so) and wouldn't let me bring it back, I had to stop the tracking and rode over to the drone, it let me land it at that point. My solution was to turn everything off and boot it back up. Second a few min later flight it did fine.

It happened again once right after takeoff but didn't go out that far and I was able to land. In the first situation, at least one of the GPSs were working (beacon or the drone's) because it could still track me but what it thought was in close was actually 500 yards off so definitely GPS tracking and not visual. I didn't notice any warnings at all. Thinking back on the situations it's apparent the GPS lost it's mind. Here, our sky is mostly just blue sky, rarely any clouds to My only suggestion is when it acts really weird, obviously confused land it if you can and reboot everything.
 

scrampker

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I can't speak to the SD care other then to say they've been pretty decent to me. I can share some weird GPS issues I've seen. I'm convinced there was a change during one of the updates that prompted this issue. Twice so far it's gone off the rails just after takeoff. One time it stood off and would track my position but at a significant distance (500 yards of so) and wouldn't let me bring it back, I had to stop the tracking and rode over to the drone, it let me land it at that point. My solution was to turn everything off and boot it back up. Second a few min later flight it did fine.

It happened again once right after takeoff but didn't go out that far and I was able to land. In the first situation, at least one of the GPSs were working (beacon or the drone's) because it could still track me but what it thought was in close was actually 500 yards off so definitely GPS tracking and not visual. I didn't notice any warnings at all. Thinking back on the situations it's apparent the GPS lost it's mind. Here, our sky is mostly just blue sky, rarely any clouds to My only suggestion is when it acts really weird, obviously confused land it if you can and reboot everything.
This seems like a software issue as well as mine. the behavior is unexcusable. I can fly my MP3 immediately and when it gets GPS, my RC Pro announces it. I can then fly nearly two miles away if I want.

The return to home and GPS logic absolutely needs to be updated and has been modified recently. I never saw the auto motion thing before. Also, my understanding was that if you can fly to a higher altitude then you must have a GPS lock. It really feels like Skydio just doesn't want to admit there are some glaring issues with the software. There's absolutely no reason for the drone to fly off, emergency land, or even crash into the water. There should be some method of determining altitude, other than visual. Watching some of the videos in the other threads makes my stomach churn. A simple proximity sensor would solve the issue, or just use the altitude information that GPS provides and actually utilize it instead of overriding it with visual data.
 

Ridefreak

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What's kind of strange is it wasn't always like this.
 
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scrampker

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What's king of strange is it wasn't always like this.
Yep I'm day 1 ride or die S2 owner and I've never had any issues (like this.) This one wasn't even over water like 75% of my flights that are.

The responses from support seem very cold and calculated. Gone are the days of trying to explain things in great detail, and being supportive to customers that paid $2,500 for a drone with a 1,000-foot range.

The tracking feature is really good, but the main pro for me was the lack of nanny messages when launching. Zero restrictions. I'm sure that will change, but my MP3 will only let me fly a out half the time. It's quite frustrating. No airports for 20 miles yet somehow there's always some stupid little zone so I can't even use the drone to take a quick image 20ft up in the air.

I'll always appreciate that about Skydio, but they REALLY need to work on this particular programming mistake.
 

kenmavic2zoom

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what's an mp3? are you trying to say mavic 3 or mini 3 pro?

if skydio care is treating you that poorly, you should ask for a refund.
 

scrampker

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Mavic. And I don't expect a refund, since I'm one of the original $2,500 supporters, the care would be expired. I'm mostly just disappointed in the canned responses when clearly the drone misbehaved due to changes in firmware.
 
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loyukfai

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Yep I'm day 1 ride or die S2 owner and I've never had any issues (like this.) This one wasn't even over water like 75% of my flights that are.

The responses from support seem very cold and calculated. Gone are the days of trying to explain things in great detail, and being supportive to customers that paid $2,500 for a drone with a 1,000-foot range.

The tracking feature is really good, but the main pro for me was the lack of nanny messages when launching. Zero restrictions. I'm sure that will change, but my MP3 will only let me fly a out half the time. It's quite frustrating. No airports for 20 miles yet somehow there's always some stupid little zone so I can't even use the drone to take a quick image 20ft up in the air.

I'll always appreciate that about Skydio, but they REALLY need to work on this particular programming mistake.
$2500 is nothing compared to what Skydio is making off the enterprise market.

Skydio is probably prioritising according to where the major revenue stream is. Can't fault them for doing so but I'd also hope they can get a foldable consumer drone out sooner rather than later.

Cheers.
 
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scrampker

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$2500 is nothing compared to what Skydio is making off the enterprise market.

Skydio is probably prioritising according to where the major revenue stream is. Can't fault them for doing so but I'd also hope they can get a foldable consumer drone out sooner rather than later.

Cheers.
I'm sure you're right about the per-drone revenue for the industrial market, but at the same time I doubt that's a major percentage of their overall unit production.

I think what's really going on here is that Skydio gave away too many freebies in the beginning and now legit complaints are being ignored. They can't afford to have the same level of care and response at this point in the game.

I take umbrage with the accusation that it was purely user error. I've flown this thing 75 times over 3 years. I have 4 drones, I fly semi-professionally all over the world, though mostly for fun. I've been in every scary drone flying environment you can imagine, and I'm very careful. Ironically the S2 is the only drone I've ever lost. I still have the Mavic Pro Platinum, DJI FPV, and Mavic 3 Pro. So the 'smartest' drone I own ended up doing the dumbest thing and flying off. Sure is a shame on the range.

This was purely due to the software and hardware malfunctioning and not having solid logic to a very basic situation. If what support is telling me is actually true, then the app should be warning of this. Not just letting me fly to a high altitude and doing whatever I want. Should be a user Pin code entry to override and agree that I want to lose my drone. The reality is that I had GPS lock, but the drone malfunctioned and Skydio can't afford to take any level of responsibility whatsoever.

I should probably find a buyer for 7 batteries, 2 dual chargers, controller, and powered range extender.
 
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VEGASROBBI

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The S2 has strengths and weaknesses. Like you I have experienced GPS issues getting messages like "connect to app to speed up GPS, GPS lost....."

It's been a learning experience after my battery swell issue which caused my S2 to fall from the sky, I realize this is more of a specialty drone. What it does it does very good, sport tracking.

Honestly I do not fly my S2 more than a few hundred feet out I don't feel comfortable at distances like a thousand feet. After launch I'm very careful to monitor GPS because I've experienced after launch fly aways like Ridefreak; it is completely random it hasn't done it in dozens of flights.

This doesn't make the S2 a bad drone it's great at what it does, however it has limitations and must be operated in a smaller box.

If I'm not tracking and have to fly long distances I use one of my Mavik's or Typhoon, my Anafi also does well. But none can match the tracking performance of the S2 so I put up with the good and bad.

That's not to say DJI had no problems, I had lots of problems with my P3 at long distances, but my P4 has been pretty solid as well as my Mavic Zoom; so hopefully sooner than later Skydio will get it sorted.

My guess is Skydio is aware of these issues but have more important things to address then us prosumers. I'm sure it's tough for an upstart drone company to survive in today's market, especially an American drone company. I think 3DR had it all over DJI and blew it with bad decisions, let's hope skydio does better.

Sorry for your loss, but if you are looking for a drone too film sunsets and fly long distances you will be better off with something else.
 
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scrampker

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I agree with your sentiments regarding range. I've spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to make Skydio honest, but to no avail. The powered extender showed promise, but the flyaway happened the very same day I received the unit. I was actually performing the before of a before-and-after comparison. Neat, huh.

Unfortunately Skydio is extremely dishonest about range, and it seems increasingly they are having other issues that they refuse to acknowledge as well.

I loved the tracking features, and really appreciated the ability to fly on my own terms, rather than what the Chinese gov tells me I can do. At the end of the day I planned to get the s2+, but after the response from support, I'll pass.
 
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bikeridez

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>>"S2 fly-away due to malfunctioning GPS and/or bad programming. "

I got the drone and beacon in late June and this also happened to me on my 3rd flight attempt. The drone launched from my hand, turned around, looked at me, and then took off at full speed and flew completely out of range (the side of mountain) where I had to nearly kill myself to get close enough to the drone to force a landing where the props got all messed up. Here is the drone video of it just taking off, full speed ahead:



I sent Skydio the logs and then had me ship the drone back where they replaced it with a new "fully tested drone". The also replaced the beacon too. While I haven't had the issue with the drone flying off again, in 4 out 5 attempts I cannot get a GPS sync when flying with the beacon only (no matter where I try to launch from). After 3 more emails to support about this issue which have gone unanswered now, I also did a post on this because I'm so aggravated: https://skydiopilots.com/threads/extremely-aggravated-by-beacon-gps-syncing-issues.1371/

When I'm able to get the drone launched, it performs beautifully. The video footage is spectacular. But, the beacon/drone GPS syncing issues are ready to cause me to throw this drone off a mountain sooner or later.
 
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scrampker

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There's an obvious issue with GPS that did not exist in older firmware. I never had an issue in the last few years, then boom, flies away and who knows what.

Mostly I'm just upset at Skydio support's response. Customer's fault when the drone malfunctioned. Mmmkay
 

Ridefreak

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>>"S2 fly-away due to malfunctioning GPS and/or bad programming. "

I got the drone and beacon in late June and this also happened to me on my 3rd flight attempt. The drone launched from my hand, turned around, looked at me, and then took off at full speed and flew completely out of range (the side of mountain) where I had to nearly kill myself to get close enough to the drone to force a landing where the props got all messed up. Here is the drone video of it just taking off, full speed ahead:



I sent Skydio the logs and then had me ship the drone back where they replaced it with a new "fully tested drone". The also replaced the beacon too. While I haven't had the issue with the drone flying off again, in 4 out 5 attempts I cannot get a GPS sync when flying with the beacon only (no matter where I try to launch from). After 3 more emails to support about this issue which have gone unanswered now, I also did a post on this because I'm so aggravated: https://skydiopilots.com/threads/extremely-aggravated-by-beacon-gps-syncing-issues.1371/

When I'm able to get the drone launched, it performs beautifully. The video footage is spectacular. But, the beacon/drone GPS syncing issues are ready to cause me to throw this drone off a mountain sooner or later.
Just a suggestion, increase the wait time prior to auto landing to the max which I think is 5 min. That will allow you time to get over to it and control the landing if possible otherwise hopefully stand under it to catch the drone as it comes down. To me an auto land that isn't under my control isn't much better then a crash as it's likly to damage some props at the least. As you know there's not allot of good landing spots in the desert.
 

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