Freefly, which introduced the Astro in 2020 as an addition to its Alta series of drones for cinematographers, has called for the halt in the use of these systems due to a software problem that caused a crash of the aircraft. Freefly is currently investigating the cause of the problem and has advised all Astro users worldwide to keep their drones grounded for the time being.
The Astro drone is mainly used for applications such as inspections and mapping and can be equipped with a 61-megapixel Sony a7R IV camera for high-quality recordings. The system also boasts a number of special features, such as an onboard computer for data processing, LTE cloud connectivity, and RTK GPS.
According to Freefly, the recent crash occurred due to a faltering in-flight software of version 1.1.14 for an unknown reason for a period of more than a second. The flight controller then responded again, but it was too late, and the drone was unable to maintain sufficient altitude, resulting in the crash.
Astro drone uses Auterion's Skynode software
Freefly claims that the software issue should have been handled automatically by the system design, but in this case, it did not work properly. Notably, the Skynode flight control software that powers the Astro system is developed by Auterion and not Freefly itself.
While Freefly is yet to identify the root cause of the problem, it is urging all Astro users worldwide to keep their drones grounded and to monitor the company's communication channels for updates.
This is not the first time that a drone manufacturer has had to call for a halt in drone usage due to a software or hardware problem, highlighting the importance of ensuring that the drones used are designed and built to the highest possible standards.
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