DJI Mavic 3 and 3 Classic Obstacle Avoidance APAS 5.0

One of the very few weak points of the DJI Air 2S and the Mini 3 Pro is the lack of lateral obstacle sensors, which makes it unsuitable for safely tracking action. During several tests with both models, I had several small crashes when tracking myself in parallel mode, due to the lack of lateral sensors

Both models Air 2S have a hard time detecting fine tree branches and electric lines, while the Mini 3 Pro lacks upward sensors making it dangerous when flying below trees

The DJI Mavic 3 and 3 Classic are the only models of DJI prosumer line to offer omnidirectional obstacle sensors. The sensors work together with the advanced APAS 5.0 (Advance Pilot Assistance System) that controls the behavior when encountering obstacles. These two models are therefore the only ones suitable for close-distance tracking

In most cases, tracking is performed using the intelligent flight modes grouped under the name Focus Track. Here you find my in-depth analysis of Active Track, Point of Interest and Spotlight

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

Mavic 3 and 3 Classic Obstacle Sensors

Action tracking and obstacle avoidance is the only area where DJI prosumer drones are behind a competitor, the Skydio 2, a drone that is specialized in tracking, even though is clearly inferior to DJI models in all other departments. So, let’s see if DJI has done some catching up with the Mavic 3

Mavic 3 and obstacle sensors

The Mavic 3 and 3 Classic have a couple of obstacle sensors facing forward, backward, upward, and downward. Like in the Air 2S and in the Mini 3 Pro, there are no sensors at the sides, but the two at the front and at the back have a wide-angle vision and should be able to cover obstacles at the sides

Settings for APAS 5.0 Obstacle Avoidance System 

The settings for obstacle avoidance are the same as in the Air 2S. In the Safety tab, we can choose three different actions

  • Off: the obstacles detected will not be avoided
  • Brake: the aircraft will stop and hover before an obstacle
  • Bypass: the drone will try to find the safest way around an obstacle, if possible
Obstacle avoidance menu and Radea Map on the Mavic 3 Classic

If the Option right below, Display Radar Map, is turned on, a map of the obstacles around the aircraft will be shown on the screen

Mavic 3 and 3 Classic Obstacle Avoidance Test


Mount Etna in autumn

Mount Etna is the perfect place for this kind of test. Plenty of wooded areas and lava rock formations and hardly anybody around. At this time of the year, some great autumn colors are very well reproduced by the excellent Normal mode of the Mavic 3, the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution

The omnidirectional obstacle sensors of the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic coupled with APAS 5.0 work extremely well to detect and avoid all sorts of obstacles. I have tested it with all kinds of obstacles, including tiny bare branches, and in all directions. These two models are the only ones of the DJI prosumer line to use for close-range tracking

I start by choosing Brake in the Obstacle Avoidance Action in the Safety tab. I also make sure that Display Radar Map is on, it will give us some clues on how APAS reacts to nearby obstacles

The display of the Radar Map

When obstacles are detected, an ellipse shows them in red with the distance below or above the aircraft

Obstacle avoidance with tee trunks

I start by heading towards these tree trunks. For the Mavic 3, such a large obstacle is a piece of cake and it stops before it, then I try going laterally toward the same tree, but again it stops before it

Let’s try something more difficult, I head towards this area between two trees with plenty of tiny branches everywhere, a situation the Air 2S cannot handle well

Obstacle avoidance with bare branches

The drone advances until it stops just before a tiny branch. It is now surrounded by branches and leaves, but I try to force my way through by going forward, backward, sideways, above, and below. I was sure it would crash during this maneuver, but somehow it kept stopping just before hitting even the tiniest obstacle, amazing

Mavic 3 obstacle avoidance against bushes

Now let’s move to this wider area. Let’s see if I finally manage to crash this drone on these bushes with a very wiry structure, really hard to detect. I go at full speed against them, then I try my luck sideways, then I go back towards them, I even try several times to descend towards the tiny tree, but every time the aircraft stops just before hitting it

Not an easy task to crash this drone!


Let’s see if I have more luck crashing this drone using the bypass mode

Mavic 3 flying in the wood

Here I let it fly low on this path surrounded by trees. I am simply pushing the stick forward and it finds its way avoiding obstacles, but at this point, it avoids the tree by going to the left instead of following the path

If it was tracking a target, there would be a reference point to help follow the path. In this situation, I can help it by slightly pushing the stick to the right to indicate the route. Notice how it advances avoiding all obstacles, even the smallest branches

When flying in an area surrounded by obstacles, like this path in a forest, the speed is not as high as in a wide-open environment, the closer the obstacles the slower the speed

The Mavic 3 fling above tree branches

Here it manages to find its way above or below tiny branches. I keep simply pushing the stick forward and it finds its way around the tiniest spaces. I am doing my best, but it seems impossible to crash it

In this wider area, I launch it bird against this block of lava rock, but it easily moves above to avoid it. Then I fly in a circular path randomly around some trees, but once again it manages to avoid every single one with ease

Mavic 3 and 3 Classic Obstacle Avoidance While Zooming

I had read on the internet that the APAS system does not work with the zoom functionalities of the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic, especially when engaging the telephoto lens. Let’s give it a try

Obstacle avoidance while zooming

By clicking on the binocular icon I engage the zoom, then I tap once on the icon below to go to the 2x digital zoom. The ellipse for obstacle detection is still there and the drone keeps avoiding obstacles going forward, backward, and sideways

So I tap twice on the zoom level icon to get to 7x and engage the telephoto lens (not available on he Mavic 3 Classic). Even with the second lens, the APAS system works perfectly well, and this is excellent news, as it means that it is possible to track targets very far away

Here is my specific article about the telephoto lens of the Mavic 3

How to Use the New Advanced Return to Home on the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic

With the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic, there is a new option for Return to Home, named Advanced RTH. When using this method the aircraft will remain at the same altitude finding the shortest way through obstacles using the obstacle sensors and APAS 5.0. This method saves battery time

In the Safety tab of Settings, it is possible to choose between this new Advanced Mode and the traditional one, named Straight Lines. When selecting Straight Lines, the aircraft will raise to the specified RTH altitude to stay above all obstacles, go back to the home point in a straight line and then land

Advanced RTH with the Mavic 3

I have placed the drone in an area surrounded by thick trees. After tapping on the RTH button, it finds its way around the trees, then it heads towards the home point direction remaining at the same height and once it reaches home it lands 

Related Articles


I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

Recent Posts