How to Plan a Terrain Follow Mission with DJI Pilot 2

DJI Pilot 2 is the flight software used by the DJI Matrice 300 RTK  (M300), the Matrice 350 RTK  (M350), and the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise (M3E).

Terrain follow is suggested for sites with varying elevations and will help ensure a consistent ground sampling distance across your site.

All standard mission settings will remain the same for terrain follow missions, including altitude and camera settings. Please view our other help articles if you have specific mission settings questions for a Mavic 3E mapping mission, a M300 Mapping mission, a linear/corridor mission, a Smart Oblique mission, or if you plan to create and import a KML file for your mission plan. 

Planning a Terrain Follow Mission

1. Power on the RC and aircraft.

2. From the home screen of DJI Pilot, tap Flight Route.

3. Tap the + in the top right corner and then tap Create a Route.

4. Tap on your mission type (Terrain Follow is available for Waypoint, Area Route, and Linear Route). This article will cover the Area Route option. 

5. Navigate to your site and tap the screen to start dropping points to mark the flight area as you would for a standard mission.

6. Select the drone and camera type. (This will reflect the planned flight times based on the drone you are flying.)

7. Tap the ASL/ALT drop-down and select AGL. (Terrain follow modes are only available if AGL is selected).

There are two terrain follow modes—DSM Follow and Real-Time Follow (M3E only). 

An RTK connection is NOT required for either of these modes on the M3E, but is suggested for lower-altitude flights or areas with large altitude changes. 

An RTK connection IS required for DSM terrain follow missions with M300 and M350.

Option 1: DSM Follow (download from the internet)

Important note: ASTER DEMs are available for all flight areas, but the potential accuracy and time of collection are important to consider when flying in areas with recent terrain changes or development. The downloadable “ASTER” DEM was produced between March 1, 2000 and November 30, 2013. Take this into serious consideration when planning around terrain or features that may have changed.

1. From the settings menu (After selecting AGL in the previous step), Tap DSM Files.

2. Tap Download from Internet. (Make sure your remote is connected to the Internet). 

You can also provide your own DSM to use for terrain following. This DSM must be in WGS84 and have accurate vertical data. Propeller does not provide custom DSM support.

3. Once the remote generates the flight plan, you will be able to visualize the flight plan using the color key at the bottom of the screen. Adjust the height as needed. While the drone will select an optimal speed, consider lower speeds for sites with more severe elevation change.  

If you receive an error message stating that your flight area is outside the DEM coverage area, go back into the terrain follow settings and confirm you have the correct DEM downloaded and selected. 

4. Tap the save icon to complete the mission plan. If you need to edit any of these settings, click the pen icon to reopen the settings.

Please see our article on editing a mission to change any mission settings. 

5. Mapping Checklist: For terrain follow missions, we suggest setting your signal lost action from “Return to Home” to “Continue.” This will ensure the drone completes the mission without stopping due to interference from variable terrain or obstacles. 

Option 2: Real-time follow (Mavic 3 Enterprise only) 

Important Note: This mode takes advantage of the onboard vision system to calculate altitude. While the Mavic does a great job of navigating terrain for a constant GSD (ground sampling distance), it is still important to plan around obstacles or abrupt changes in altitude (towers and large vertical faces).

1. From the settings menu, toggle on Real-Time Follow. Make sure you have set your ASL/ALT to AGL.

2. Set your Mission and Safe Takeoff Altitude.

3. Tap the save icon.

4. Mapping Checklist: For terrain follow missions, we suggest setting your signal lost action from “Return to Home” to “Continue.” This will ensure that the drone completes the mission without stopping due to any interference with the remote. 

Remember to follow all of the standard settings for your mission type. 

If flying in areas with significant terrain change, consider increasing your overlap percentage to 85%-90% to adjust for the vertical change. 

5. Double-check your settings in the Preflight Checklist.

I still can't do it!

We wrote these articles to equip you with everything you need to get the job done on your own, but we understand that sometimes this isn't sufficient.

If you're stuck, the Propeller hardware support team may be able to help. You can contact them by emailing