Desktop Flight Planning

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You can learn how to plan a flight on using your computer.

Below are the instructions to plan a project on on your desktop computer prior to flight. See the Initial Setup for Flying and the Making Successful Maps guides before you leave home to map!

What is a Project?

A Project is a location-based organization that centralizes your relevant drone data into one place making tracking change over time easy and time-efficient.


The 4 tabs of a Project.

Reusable flight templates can found on the 'Fly' tab. A flight template is similar to what used to be known as a flight plan. The difference is that you can fly a template as often as possible without copying it. This helps to remove variability when you're tracking change over time.

The 'Upload' tab is ready to accept images for flights we've detected as flown and can also receive any uploads that fit our processing requirements.

The maps in the 'Explore' tab are each distinct entities within the project. They are automatically aligned to each other, so overlays and annotations will only need to be made on one map to see the change over time. Deleting a completed map will delete that single map and will not delete the entire project.

The 'Report' tab currently hosts the Annotation Report and the Progress Report, with more to come.

Create a Project

Open in your browser and log in. This will take you to your dashboard. Navigate to 'New Project' in the top left-hand corner of your screen to create a new project.

Create project Button .png

Your initial project location will be based on the given location of your device. If you would like to change the location, click inside the search bar to search for a location. You can also drag the target around the map.

Create Project First Page .png

Finding project location

Search by address, name, or zip code, in the search bar at the top. Select 'Create project here' in the middle of your screen when you've found the area you'd like to map.

IMPORTANT! Ensure this project location is accurate to where you plan to fly. This project location cannot be changed once created.

Create Project 2.png

Searching for project location

Browser compatibility
For the best performance/functionality, we recommend using the latest Google Chrome version to access DroneDeploy. Safari is the next best option, though it can occasionally have issues. In our experience, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge provide the least consistent performance and are not recommended for use with DroneDeploy. Ad blockers/pop-up blockers (extensions), are also problematic as they can block the display of desired web elements (such as annotations or markers), and, as such, should be disabled.  Lastly, browser-related issues can often be resolved by clearing the cache and restarting the browser and computer.

Choose your project name and click 'Continue'.

Create project Button .png

Selecting a project name

Choose your flight plan. For orthomosaics used for Elevation, Plant Health and RGB maps, choose "Standard Map Plan".


If you click on the gear in the top right corner of the project view, you'll enter the 'Project Settings'. You can rename the project, set up auto-exports, and you can also access the Flight Logs.

If no flight logs exist, try leaving the app open for 10 minutes while connected to a strong Wi-Fi connection to trigger a sync. If they aren't available, you can always grab them manually using a USB cable.

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Project settings

Add Additional Flight Templates

You might, for example, want one Progress Photo template, one Map template, and one Video template for a single location that you can refly at any time.

To create additional flight templates for your project, click on the template selector in the top left of your screen and select the + sign:

Add more plans .png

Edit your first flight template or create another one

After selecting '+', you can choose the type of map plan you'd like to create.
Click on one of these options to load a new template of that flight type.

This article will cover settings for a 'Maps & Models' flight. 

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Flight template type options

Once you select the flight type you'll see an editable view of that plan.

You can also select a different plan to edit or fly by clicking on the template selector again and choosing a different flight template. You can delete a map plan by clicking on the 3-dotted menu to the right of the plan's name.

Choosing a different template to edit or fly


Now that you've set up multiple plans in your project, check out mission chaining where you can learn how to fly them in succession without landing your drone.


Flight Settings

Below the template selector, you can set the custom parameters for your flight.


Your flight settings are very important.
Understanding and adjusting these parameters along with the Advanced Settings is paramount to successfully mapping across varied conditions and subjects. Altitude and overlap settings are the two most crucial parameters to think about changing for each flight.
  • When you aren't connected to a drone, the time, area, image count, and battery count estimator calculates conservative estimates based upon a Mavic 2 Pro by default. You can change the drone by which the estimate is based in advanced settings. Likewise, calculations for your specific drone on the mobile app will update once you've connected your drone.

Click on the Planning Camera option to change the drone/camera estimates for each specific flight template.

  • Flight altitude sets the distance above the takeoff point that the drone captures photos. Flying higher makes the images easier to stitch at some expense of resolution. If you're mapping a difficult subject such as vegetation, a desert, or water, flying high increases the chance for a successful map. If you do have to fly lower, increase your overlap to make the photos easier to stitch.

  • Enhanced 3D captures additional angled shots from the perimeter of your mission plan, facing towards the center of your subject for higher quality 3D models, and combines this with crosshatch photo capture. Enhanced 3D mode maps are best kept under 1000 images. Enhanced 3D mode does have device requirements.

  • Live Map is a real-time mapping product available as part of DroneDeploy’s mobile iOS app. With Live Map, you can produce a low-resolution 2D map on your iOS device as the drone is flying -- even without a cellular or data connection. Live Map has device requirements as well.

  • Obstacle Avoidance is enabled by default to use the built-in obstacle avoidance sensors that your drone may have to help avoid a collision. Sometimes, a low, bright sun can cause the drone to stop mid-flight because it's detected as a nearby object. Turn off Obstacle Avoidance if you think this may be the case and you're confident that the drone will not encounter any real obstacles along its flight path.

Plan on mobile
To plan a flight offline, please plan a flight within the DroneDeploy mobile app. It's a toggle on a template dashboard.

Advanced Flight Settings

You have a handful of important options to select in the Advanced Settings, which can be shown by selecting 'Advanced' on your dashboard below 'Obstacle Avoidance':

Flight Modes .png

Advanced Settings

  • Sidelap: the percentage of overlap between the sides of the images.

  • Frontlap: the percentage of overlap between the top and bottom of your images.

Increasing overlap (sidelap + frontlap) generally makes stitching a more difficult subject easier. More views are captured of each feature. The default 75/65 overlap setting will work for most maps, but if you are flying low or your subject is very homogenous (everything looks the same, like a field or a treeline), increase overlap between 5%-15%. Increasing overlap has two main negative effects. First, image count and time is increased. Second, if your subject has a lot of movement (people + cars), more movement will be captured, which can cause additional stitching issues.

  • Flight Direction: Changes the orientation of the flight lines 360 degrees around. This can also be used to change the starting waypoint of the plan.

  • Max Flight Speed: Changes the maximum allowed flight speed that the drone can map at. The drone will not necessarily reach this speed because a lower speed may be required for sharp image capture considering your hardware and the altitude and overlap settings.

  • Starting Waypoint: The first waypoint that will be flown on your mission. This skips all previous waypoints.

  • Manual Camera Settings: Unless otherwise specified, the automatic settings from DJI GO will be retained in the DroneDeploy app. If you shoot manually, fly up to your mapping altitude using DJI Go 4 and select your camera settings before mapping with DroneDeploy.

Altitude and overlap are the most important settings.

Show Existing Map: In the left panel, there is a toggle to show the existing map while you're flight planning. This feature will show the latest orthomosaic in that region in order to help you plan the flight boundary of your next flight. 

Note; The "existing map" will display the most recently completed orthomosaic in that region. This means if you have a neighboring project completed more recently, it will show in this feature.

Dashboard Navigation

When you're viewing a project, click on the home button in the top left of your screen to view all of your projects and folders in a list.

By clicking on the 3-dotted drop down to the right of the project name, you can view the flight page for the map, move it to a folder, share, or upload images.

Project shortcut.png

KML and Shapefile Planning

These instructions guide you through planning based on an address or a location's name. If you want to plan a mission-based on a KML or shapefile instead, please see shapefile planning.

Now you can edit the boundaries and the parameters for your first Map Plan that automatically loads after choosing the project name. You can edit the boundaries by clicking on the white dots along the perimeter of the selected blue area on the map. The greyed-out dots are ready to be clicked to create more points.

We always recommend 'overflying' - meaning any important part of your subject you need to be captured should not be close to the selected boundary.

The map will automatically save. 

Before you fly

Read the Initial Setup for Flying Guide before you leave home to fly! It's very important to ensure your aircraft is flight-ready!

After you've read the Initial Setup for Flying Guide, head out to the field, check your drone in DJI Go and quit, navigate to your template in the DroneDeploy mobile app, and connect to fly!

Access: All levels of the organization can create a project and flight plan on the dashboard desktop, including pilots, analysts, and admins. 

After you fly

If your captured images do not automatically upload using Mobile Uploads, follow the How to Process Datasets guide to learn how to upload the image set to be processed into a beautiful, complete map!

More guides on planning your flights: 

Articles in this section

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