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Terrain awareness - PIX4Dcapture Pro

This article aims to explain the use of the Terrain Awareness feature within PIX4Dcapture Pro.

What is Terrain awareness

Terrain awareness refers to drone's ability to understand and recognize the nature of the terrain over which it is flying. Our new image acquisition app, PIX4Dcapture Pro, has a terrain awareness feature.

It is recommended to activate Terrain awareness when flying above uneven terrain. Once activated, the drone will follow terrain elevation changes for a consistent GSD and overlap between images, resulting in more accurate and detailed maps and models.


How to use the Terrain awareness feature

To access the terrain awareness feature:

Note: The Terrain awareness feature is only available for Grid mission. The DJI Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro drones don't support the Terrain Awareness feature.
    1. Create a New plan using Grid mission and click Next.


    2. Define the mission parameter and Save Save_button.png the mission.
    3. Go back to the mission list and download the Offline maps. For more information, Download Offline maps.
      Note: Terrain awareness requires Offline maps. If no offline maps are found, a pop-up message will come up asking the user to go back to the mission list and Download Offline maps for the current plan to enable the Terrain awareness feature.
    4. After downloading the offline map, open the mission.
    5. Tap on the Terrain awareness feature.


    6. A pop-up window will come up with the terrain awareness feature. Enable Terrain Awareness by scrolling the toggle icon.

      Warning: It is recommended to fly 30m or higher above the terrain as objects such as buildings, trees, power lines, etc., are not considered a part of terrain awareness.
      After the Terrain awareness feature is enabled, the drone flight height will be based on the terrain, not based on the drone takeoff point.
    7. When enabled by the user, the mission's flight height will be automatically adjusted, showing the drone's new flying path. Then, the user can exit (x) the Terrain awareness window to check the rest of the Grid mission parameters and start the mission.
Note: It is possible to move the mission's location within the offline map range or even outside the offline map range. If Terrain awareness is enabled and the mission is moved to start outside the offline maps range, the mission will not be executed as there is no terrain elevation information.

Start mission

Once the Terrain awareness has been enabled and the rest of the Grid mission parameters have been set, the mission can be started.

After pressing the Start mission button, a disclaimer pop-up message will come up showing the following information, which we recommend reading carefully:

Terrain awareness disclaimer:
  • Elevation data might not be accurate enough to fully represent features like peaks, cliffs, etc. Please note that objects such as buildings, trees, power lines, etc., are not considered.
  • The profile view only shows the ground elevation beneath the flight path. Higher elevations may exist in the flight area, and between the flight area and the drone location.
  • During the return to home, the drone does not follow the terrain but comes back in a straight line at the RTH mission height (predefined by the highest mission waypoint) or the current height, whichever is greater.
  • The drone operator is solely responsible for the safety of the flight and must respect local regulations: maximum flight height, visual line of sight, etc.
  • Terrain awareness is an advanced feature for experienced drone operators. You should be ready to take manual control to avoid collision and use it with extreme caution.

After reading the disclaimer message, click the I acknowledge button to continue. The mission checklist will come up, and if everything is green-checked, click the Fly mission button to start the mission.


Does the Terrain awareness feature work offline as well as online?

The terrain awareness feature can work offline as well as online. However, it is required to download the offline map to enable the terrain awareness feature. The terrain data will be used from the downloaded offline map.

Can I import the elevation map, such as DSM, and 3D mesh, into the PIX4Dcapture Pro app?

You can't import different elevation maps, such as DSM and 3D mesh files, for the terrain awareness feature. PIX4Dcapture Pro uses Mapbox to extract the elevation map.

What is the source of elevation data used for the Terrain awareness feature?

PIX4Dcapture Pro uses Mapbox as a basemap provider based on NASA SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) and supplemented with additional data. It's important to remember that terrain data can become outdated, and the accuracy of the elevation data may vary depending on the location. Additionally, structures such as buildings or other man-made structures may not be reflected in the dataset.