DJI Mini 3 Pro Obstacle Avoidance System

One of the main differences between the DJI Mini 3 and the Mini 3 Pro is the presence of obstacle sensors

The Mini 3 Pro has pairs of sensors at the front, toward the back, and at the bottom. Unlike the Mavic 3, there are no sensors at the sides and at the top. The front and back sensors partially protect the sides and the area above, but obstacles placed near 90 degrees to the side or straight above will not be detected

In this article, I will show how the system works and all the relative settings

More details about how to set the Mini 3 Pro are in the following articles

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

How to Set Obstacle Avoidance in the Mini 3 Pro

The Automated Pilot Assistance System APAS 4.0 handles the behavior of the drone when it encounters obstacles on its path

Choices for Obstacle Avoidance Action with the Mini 3 Pro
Choices for Obstacle Avoidance Action with the Mini 3 Pro

In the menu Safety of Settings, there are three choices for the Obstacle Avoidance Action

  • Bypass
  • Brake
  • Off

When Brake is selected, the aircraft will stop and hover at about one meter, or three feet, from any detected obstacle. If we choose Bypass the aircraft will try to find the shortest path around the obstacles to avoid them. When Off is selected, the APAS system is disabled

Status of the Obstacle Avoidance in the top right of the screen
Status of the Obstacle Avoidance in the top right of the screen

Notice that on the top of the screen, an icon indicates the status of the obstacle detection system: it is white when the detection is on and red when it is not active

The next option is Disable Sideways Flight. It is useful only in rare situations when we need to fly in a perfectly straight line, in most cases for slow moves in confined spaces. When using the obstacle detection system we will leave it off

The Radar Map on the Mini 3 Pro

Scrolling down in the menu we can choose to display an on-screen radar map. This map shows a line in the lower part of the screen if obstacles are detected below the drone, the distance from the obstacle is displayed

The line will be yellow at first and turns red when the obstacle is closer. If an obstacle is detected in front of the drone, another line will appear in the upper part of the screen

When filming the most frequently used obstacle avoidance action is bypass, as the aircraft will keep moving while avoiding obstacles for uninterrupted cinematic footage. Let’s see how the Mini 3 behaves

Mini 3 Pro Obstacle Avoidance in Action

Mini 3 Pro obstacle avoidance in a wood

In this dense wood, the 3 Pro does an excellent job of detecting trees in front and slightly to the side while following me and reacts very quickly to find its way around them. The same goes for detecting obstacles behind it when flying backward

The obstacle avoidance system is very often used in conjunction with the three intelligent flight modes of the Mini 3. I will find in-depth analysis in my articles

A small crash using the Air 2s

Several models of DJI prosumer line struggle to detect wiry obstacles like tiny bare tree branches or power lines. Under these circumstances, I have experienced a couple of small crashes with the Air 2s

The only model so far to handle this situation with ease is the Mavic 3, able to find its way around any situation, even when surrounded by the tiniest branches

The Mini 3 Pro handles the situation better than the Air 2s. Even in this tight environment, it managed to avoid most branches. Only on a couple of occasions, it touched them, but without crashing

One thing I have noticed is that most drones need a certain amount of light to detect obstacles, it is suggested to avoid going in very dense areas with minimal light, as the sensor might struggle

The APAS 4.0 system in the Mini 3 Pro

I find that the APAS technology for obstacle avoidance in the Mini 3 Pro works extremely well and it is a big step forward compared to the one of the Air 2s, and this is not surprising as it was released over one year later. But there is a big caveat

Limits of the Obstacle Avoidance System of the Mini 3 Pro

As we saw earlier the Mini 3 Pro lacks sensors at the top and at the sides, even though the front and back sensors have a wide-angle view and partially protect the sides and above, obstacles placed near 90 degrees to the side or straight above will not be detected

A few crashes due to the lack of lateral sensors in the Mini 3 Pro

When I tried to track myself walking in parallel mode, with the drone flying sideways, I experienced several crashes against trees

The same goes when using the intelligent flight mode Point of Interest: when the 3 Pro is circling around a target, it is unable to detect obstacles on its path, as they are at an angle close to 90 degrees

A lot of care is also needed when using Master Shots or Quick Shots with the Mini 3 Pro, check my articles for more details

I have also tested the behavior of the detection system with obstacles above the aircraft with horrible results. I tried flying under tall trees and raising in altitude to check if the sensor would detect the branches, but the result was an awful crash and a destroyed drone

The APAS system of the Mini 3 Pro is very useful and saved my drone on many occasions when it accidentally ended up close to obstacles. I recommend using it constantly when filming, but a lot of care is still needed, especially when flying laterally, orbiting, or with obstacles above

Tracking with the Mini 3 Pro in areas without obstacles

For this reason, I would recommend using the Mini 3 for close-range tracking only in wide-open areas without any obstacles

Using digital zoom while tracking with the Mini 3 Pro

While tracking we can apply a smooth zoom using the right wheel of the remote controller, which is useful to get closer to the target. Obviously, it is a digital zoom, therefore with loss of resolution, so it is only useful when encoding at 2.7k or 1080p, maybe for posting on social media. Experienced users can apply zooming while editing for extra flexibility

The only model of the current DJI line really suitable for close-range tracking is the Mavic 3, thanks to the omnidirectional sensors

Flying over water with the Mini 3 Pro

Another situation where extra care is needed is when flying over water, as the downward obstacle sensor struggles to analyze a reflective surface. Not only can it not always avoid entering the water, but even the altitude shown on the screen should be taken with a pinch of salt (forgiving the pun…)

Sprays of salty water from waves can easily destroy a drone, so I suggest avoiding flying very low and applying extra care in these situations

The obstacle avoidance system of the Mini 3 is not available when flying in Sport mode, and this is something to bear in mind, as it might lead to dangerous situations

One thing to be noticed is that the Bypass mode is active only with frame rates up to 30 fps. With higher frame rates the obstacle detection still works, but the aircraft simply stops before an obstacle instead of finding its way around it

Obstacle avoidance with the Mini 3 Pro can be used for Return To Home

The obstacle sensors are also active during a Return To Home, but this is a situation where plenty of care is needed, once again due to the lack of sensors to the side and above. I suggest using RTH only when strictly needed and setting the altitude well above all surrounding obstacles in spite of the obstacle avoidance system

I have done an in-depth analysis of Return To Home with the Mini 3 Pro in this article

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More Info and Examples in This Video

VicVideoPic

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): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgaBlrFDONJ4BSEUHa2cLKg My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkeoY8rPPj-fypUKHckTtwQ 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…

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