I'm a CS teacher at a small college. We teach folks that graduate into software development jobs.


I just got into RC planes as a hobby and now we are looking into getting a UAV for our more advanced independent study students to work with.


Obviously there's lot of building and flying, wiring, electrical stuff, tech stuff (making all the parts work), etc.


I gather we should be able to get the ArduPlane flying from one gps point to another, and perhaps doing auto takeoff and landing.


How much software development possibility is there in the UAV area?  What can my software students bring to the project, what can they get out of it?


Comments or suggestions are very welcome,


Thank you.

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • We actually already have a ground vehicle (romba vacuum types and a kids electric car) that our students have had some success with, navigating by vision processing.. They wrote some of the software that guides the vehicle. But it's iffy.


    Might start with a rover anyway, learn on it, then go to a plane. Or do both.


    Meeting next week to figure out how to pay for it. :)



  • ArduPilot is based on Arduino.. I would go this way and see if you end up in the air... remember that a Rover is far more crash resitant...  Arduino gives the advantage of low resource cost and you can assign, read out, control,.. what ever sensor (Arduino based) there is. Beside building drones I work on a project to automate a green house with simple arduino systems. Open window if temerature is to high, sprinkle water if humidity is to low... and simply water the plants if the soil moisture sensor (2$) tells that it is dry.. some students will perhaps go in the air, but Arduino is kinda limitless in the possebilities you have...



  • Dan-

    I am an Aerospace Engineering student, as well as a STEM advocate/educator/communicator. I'm excited to hear that your institution is looking into UAVs as an educational tool. As you said, there is a lot of technology, electronics and systems integration involved with building UAVs. I want you to know that there is a lot of computer science too!

    A quad-copter UAV is a machine that is inherently unstable, un-flyable assembly exotic sounding acronyms. It's the software coding that makes it fly. The motors must be coordinated in such a manner as to create appropriate amounts of lift and thrust, and so on.  

    As for winged-UAVs, the software is the difference between a normal RC plane and a true flying system. Navigation, autonomy of flight and responding to different flight envelopes are all achieved by software rather than by the actions and judgment of a pilot on the ground with a controller.

    CS students, in my opinion, could learn a great deal from UAVs. Building and troubleshooting code, tuning flight parameters and creating/tweaking autonomous flight regimes are all things that involve computer science skills. The experience of designing, building, maintaining and operating a UAV is analogous to what these students will experience in their future careers as well- teamwork, systems engineering, long and short term planning as well as troubleshooting are all skills they will learn with a UAV.

    On the upside, these machines are cheap to build and maintain. On the downside, there is a changing regulatory environment in the US (I'm assuming your are in the US). Some Universities fly UAVs quite often while others are told they need permits filed well in advance with the FAA. The FAA has been told they have until 2015 to come up with a comprehensive plan to regulate 'domestic drones' and regulations in the meantime can be hard to interpret. My point is that the will be some research for you and your legal department to do before getting into UAVs.

    One of the things that I, and the groups I work with, are working towards are educational exemptions to future UAV regulations, but that's still a long way off.

    I hope you pursue this technology and thank you for teaching CS! If you do get into UAVs, whether fixed wing or rotorcraft, stick around here. DIYDrones has experts lurking on these boards in all areas from aerodynamics, physics, policy and ethics, software, hardware, firmware, etc.  and they are all ready to jump in and lend a hand.

    Good Luck-


This reply was deleted.