Hovering above or tracking a moving target

Hovering above or tracking a moving target, I have been playing with GPS tracking devices for the last 5 years and we are able to send a simple command to the tracker to retrieve its current position. Has anyone had any experience in being able to have a moving vehicle being tracked by a drone. I know I could send the drone to the last known GPS position but that could be up to 20 seconds position delay if it is moving. Can a transmitter or beacon sort of arrangement be fitted to a vehicle and the drone follow it ?





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  • apart from the absolute position, which we know will lag by a small amount, i think it is important to send as much data as possible along the lines of heading, ground speed, vertical speed (imagine tracking a mountain bike downhill).  this could really help maintain fluid tracking of the target and avoid it getting out of frame in a sudden change of direction or a moment of sketchy gps lock.


    also, this really has to tie in with camera gimbal control, there will be cases where inertia makes it impossible to track the target perfectly, being able to raise or lower the camera a few degrees would make all the difference to keeping it in frame.




  • Developer

    Also we are currently working on small "belt size" box that will have MCU, GPS, RadioModem and few buttons inside for doing same thing what we can do with Mission Planner. As we all know that it's not so convenient to carry laptop always with you :)

    I would loove to hear how you all would like to use it and what other features you might would like to have on it. 

  • I started experimenting with a system this year that may be a bit too elaborate: My idea is to follow a commercial ($150) GPS tracking unit that sends it location over the GSM network at a set interval. It can be set to as little as 5 sec.

    The system comprises of an Arduino with GSM shield that is connected to the APM through an I2C connection. By sending an SMS command from any phone to the GSM shield, it automatically dials the tracking unit to start receiving GPS coordinates. The tricky part is to then activate "Guided" mode in the APM and relay the received GPS coordinates to the APM. On the other hand it doesn't seem too difficult and the userhooks in the code might be sufficient to handle most of the programming required. Just need a bit of time to get to know the code a bit better as well as the custom I2C procedure for the APM which works differently from the default Arduino "Wired" code.

    If it works I also hope to be able to send other MAVlink type commands to the APM.

  • Why do you say there would be a 20 second delay. GPS delay 1 to 2 secand max. You could transmit new data at 4 Hz easily. GPS tracker is infinitely easier with DIYdrones parts. How are you going to sense an infrared becon, with a camera? You will need a lot more processing power than the APM. Ya, you can do it if your that advanced, and had the time.

    So for your GPS becon you need a GPS, ardupro mini, a Xbee or 3DR radio. And some C++ skills, not too much.

  • Moderator


    Open ArdupilotMegaPlanner and press Ctrl-F . Then click the Follow Me button. Yes, by default you need a laptop running planner, but the source is available. Bend it to your needs.

  • Moderator

    Yes this is possible and pretty sure with apm?

    You need a transmitter to send waypoints to the apm via a gps reciever. For example if you have a gps dongle connected to your laptop and you have wireless 3dr link or similar you can do it by pressing ctrl and f in mission planner and clicking follow me your mission planner will then use the data from the gps dongle and transmit waypoints via the 3dr link to your quad e.t.c

    There are ways to make a smaller version of this without sticking a laptop on what you intend to follow I am sure but it is not something I have tried yet

    Here is a Mikrokopter doing the same thing


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