If you’re a DJI drone pilot, you’ve likely come across ATTI mode at some point. Now a built-in feature on newer models, ATTI mode is a setting you can manually select on older DJI drones like the Phantom 3 and 4. It’s also manually available on commercial drones such as the Matrice and Inspire 2 – though it’s referred to as A mode on these.
But what exactly is ATTI mode and how can it affect your flying?
Today, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about DJI’s ATTI mode. In the right circumstances, it can be a super useful feature that can save you from losing your drone. Let’s take a look.
ATTI Mode, short for Attitude Mode, is a DJI-specific mode that allows drone flight without the use of GPS or VPS (Vision Position Systems). ATTI mode is also other drones too but it may have a slightly different name.
Because GPS/VPS are deactivated in ATTI mode, you need to be aware that there’ll be no obstacle avoidance and your drone won’t course correct if there’s a gust of wind.
When in ATTI mode, your drone will attempt to keep its altitude based on barometer readings but will drift forwards, backward, and side to side in the wind. You’ll need to manually adjust your course to counteract the wind making it extremely difficult to fly in bad conditions.
In ATTI mode your drone also won’t automatically break. If you want to slow down, you’ll have to move the stick into the opposite position – kind of like a reverse thruster.
Some other modes you may want to note are Positioning(P) mode, Sport(S) mode, and OPTI-mode. The latter is only available on a few drones.
This is the standard mode your drone will usually be in. Both GPS and VPS are active and will help your drone to be stable during flight, even in windy conditions.
Sport mode is designed for those of you who want your drone to go fast. When activated, your GPS will still be running, but only the side VPS are turned on. You’ll notice that when you fly in this mode, your drone will tilt more to generate speed.
If your drone doesn’t have an adequate GPS signal, it may go into OPTI mode, which is purely run on the VPS. However, using the VPS alone can be detrimental because it doesn’t do well at low altitudes, in the dark, or when flying over reflective surfaces like water.
So if it’s so difficult, why would people want to fly in this mode?
One of the main benefits of flying in ATTI mode is that you’ll end up with a much smoother picture when filming, which makes it appealing to professional videographers and hobbyist cinematographers who want to capture the best footage they can. Additionally, it makes it easier to fly your drone in narrow or enclosed spaces.
Also, it’s simply more fun, and people like a challenge.
Flying in ATTI mode will present a lot more difficulties and overall make you a better drone pilot. Additionally, if you have a drone that can manually switch to ATTI mode, it’s great practice in the event your drone auto-switches to this mode mid-flight as you’ll know how to react and will be able to control your drone safely.
Finally, some people like to fly their drones indoors. Though we don’t recommend flying drones inside (unless it’s a small toy drone designed for indoor flight), many people still will, and more often than not, the GPS will fail.
Any time that your drone’s GPS fails, whether you’re in the sky or not taken off yet, your drone will kick into ATTI mode.
But why does the drone GPS fail?
Failure can happen for many reasons including interference, shielding, or just a general system failure. It can also happen if your drone has compass issues, so it’s important to recalibrate your compass regularly – especially traveling by air. Regardless of the reason, it’s your responsibility to be able to control the drone and be able to land it safely.
Flying your drone without any sort of guidance is a real skill that you need to master, and you can’t master things overnight. Nevertheless, it’s important that you regularly practice flying in ATTI mode so you don’t get caught out if you ever lose GPS.
Additionally, if you’re flying your drone for commercial/enterprise reasons, or take part in what’s classed as higher risk flights (not your standard recreational flights) you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to fly in ATTI mode.
Whatever the reasons, learning to fly in ATTI mode is a valuable skill that can help anyone become a more competent pilot and avoid crashes.
But, I have a drone that has no option to manually switch to ATTI mode, meaning I can’t practice.
There are some workarounds to this. Some people suggest covering up the VPS sensors on the bottom of the drone which can kick the drone automatically into ATTI mode. However, this isn’t always effective as you also require a weak GPS signal for your drone to go into ATTI mode. This hack might work inside the home, but if you only have limited space, you’re likely going to crash and do more harm than good.
Fear not, you still have a couple of options.
It’s always worth checking for firmware updates initially, as last year the Mavic 2 Enterprise updated its firmware to include manual switching to ATTI mode and this could be something that is filtered down to hobbyist drones in the future.
Next, you can always consider buying a drone that has a manual ATTI option. The Hubsan 501s is a great, sub $200 drone and if you do crash, at least you’ve not done it to a $450+ drone.
If your budget is really slim, you can also use a toy drone to help you learn how to fly without GPS and obstacle avoidance. We recently did a round-up of the best micro drones and they’re a great way to perfect your flying skills. They’re lightweight, super cheap, and put simply if you can fly them well, you can pretty much fly anything. – Don’t take them outside though.
When practicing flying in ATTI mode for the first time, we recommend taking your drone out into a wide-open space with no obstacles. Also, make sure there’s little to no wind – you’ll be surprised how much your drone can drift even in seemingly calm conditions.
If you know anyone who has experience flying in ATTI mode, invite them along to help you, or seek advice from your local drone club.
When taking off and landing, use Positioning(P) mode and then switch to ATTI once you’re stable and ready.
Hover your drone close by so you can see it easily and monitor the way it drifts and operates. Make regular small course corrections as soon as you see it move. Remember if things get out of hand you can always switch back into P mode.
Try to practice some simple flying maneuvers. Practice hovering over static objects like cones or whatever you have lying around and then move on to turns. Once you feel comfortable, try flying in a figure of eight shapes. This will help you to get used to how your controls react in a real-life setting.
After you’ve had a fair amount of practice, and you know what to expect, you can start taking the drone out in gradually windier conditions to see how it handles.
Keep practicing until you’re fully confident that you could recover your drone if it automatically went into ATTI mode midflight and keep your memory fresh by flying like this every so often.
We hope this covers everything you need to know about ATTI mode and that you’re in a position to practice flying your drone this way to avoid unnecessary disaster if you lose GPS/VPS.
Remember when you’re just setting up your drone, it may take a few minutes for the GPS to kick in. Don’t be impatient and wait for the signal, this way you won’t accidentally end up in ATTI mode and inadvertently crash your drone. Let us know your experience flying in ATTI mode below.