The video comes from Eric Cheng, who is the Director of Aerial Imaging at DJI. He took 3 DJI Phantom 2 quadcopters to the site and suited them up with the DJI Lightbridge wireless HD downlink to transmit the footage to an Atomos Ninja Blade so they would still have footage if the volcano ate their Phantoms.
Notably, he lost signal multiple times when near the volcano and used the return to home feature to successfully retrieve the Phantom. He attributes the loss of signal to RF interference from volcanic activity.
As I mentioned above, range was an issue from our first location, which was about 2km away from the caldera’s rim. When we moved closer, we were about 1km away, which should have been no problem for our radios, but we still lost both RC and video signal consistently when flying right above the lava. I suspect that the problem stemmed from RF interference from volcanic activity. The raw video is funny because the Phantom keeps turning around to try to come home each time I try to push it closer. You can see me constantly taking control and trying to force the aircraft back into the volcano. If we were to attribute autonomous thinking to the Phantom, we would have assumed that it was survival instinct!
Luckily, they didn’t lose a Phantom to the volcano; however, their GoPro got pretty hot – enough to melt the face of the camera as it hovered over the volcano.
Below is a behind the scenes video where he talks more about the setup and challenges for shooting around this volcano.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L6Phuwqi7Y&w=700]