How to program an Autopilot quad-copter to come to me autonomously

Hi everyone,

  Sorry if i ask a very basic question, I'm a electrical engineering student but I'm really newbie in drones. Recently I felt in love with quad-copters, so sorry guys if I'm a little newbie here.

  I would like to know how I could program a quad-copter to come to me (my GPS position) autonomously, drop me something and go back to his landing zone. Just like Harry potter calls his broombrush when he fought with that dragon. Consider there is no obstacles, trees or anything on his way.

  I'm not interested to use my phone (and its GPS) to communicate with the quad-copter, I prefer to build my own mini-device (a GPS, a radio transmitter for sending my coordination to the quad-copter or my laptop, a button to activate the drone when i call him) something like a smart watch but much more cheaper.

  I would like to use my laptop as the control station.

  Is it possible to do this with APM or PIXhawk ? 

  Sorry again if its so basic, or i posted my question in wrong place.

Thanks a lot


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start here on how to talk to the drone.

Hi Cala, 

   Thanks a lot for your answer. I'm reading the links. I got two questions if you would mind to answer.

In order to use Ardupilot common-mission-planning i should buy a PIXhawk or a APM ? if both is compatible, which is better ?

Ardupilot common-mission-planning, normally we define a point a on the map (in laptop or tablet) and drone will fly to there, so how its possible to define this position with an auxiliary mini-GPS-device, something like the bracelet that i mentioned before ? I don't ask you to tell me every thing, just show me the way.


Hi bill, 

 Thanks for the answer, i'am reading your link. I'm going to buy the hardware soon, knowing that they are a little expensive, i don't want to buy wrong components. I have searched a lot but would you mind to verify my list :

APM 2.8 or PIXhawk (witch is better ?)

4 brush-less motor

4 speed controller 

battery and charger

the plastic body

(no need for a radio controller)

Lots of thanks again

Pixhawk is newer go with that. To do what you want your going to have to learn some programming. It would be great to see you contribute to the code. Get familiar with the drone then get started on writing code. You can start off doing SITL testing. Once you get that far go to google groups= Drones Discuss and ask for help AFTER YOU HAVE A FLYING DRONE and get busy learning the code :)

Enjoy! It will be good for your career in engineering.

No doubt for you, buy the Pixhawk is newer, 32 bits, APM is 8 bits and new firms don't fit in it.

Yes, with a gps on the ground, the copter recognize where you are and work in consecuence.

Try to have a radio control for safe, except if yo build a very little copter, It's not recommend to fly without a radio control specially if you want to experiment

Thanks a lot for your answer and your respond to my request, its a great idea to have a flying drone first, so i add a radio control to my wish list. It will be a great pleasure to contribute someting here.

If i well understood your answer,  even by using Ardupilot common-mission-planning, i will need to program my drone, by programming I mean writing codes on C++ or java or ... ? 

Merci Monreo

Thanks again, i would like to avoid Pixhawk due to its price, but let it go, iPay. but i found different versions of pixhawk from 120 euro to 310 euros, for my project which is suitable ?

Consider 2 phases in my project and i want to use the same hardware for both

First phase : Building a simple radio controlled drone

Secend phase : Upgrade the drone to be a Autonomous drone to come to me on my call.

Thanks again

Yes, I believe in order to get the functionality you really want it will take some work coding. Better to start the adventure now and get a better understanding of the UAV and it's function. Because you seem like a good guy to me. I won't mislead you it's not going to work very well that way unles you put some work into it. I believe you can do it- so why not get started? ;)

A suggestion:

Fisrt face: build the dron with Pix

2nd fase: learn to fly autonomous with copter 3.3 firm

3rst fase: learn about the code

4ur fase: contribute with developers to be better code.

You are going to have a lot of feedback here and learn about drones a lot and fast.

5 fase: develop your own proyects :Good Luck 

looks that only one pixhawk that you show have gps and the others no, and you need a gps with ext compass (mandatory)

second consideration: If you can, try to buy the original one 3dr to guarantee better support, If you prefer a chinesse clone for price, try to buy in a specialized Rc shop like Rc Timer, Hobby King, etc. if you don't know the seller

The apm copter come to you when you call and land in front of you or drop a package or take a photo with only a radio switch or a tablet or notebook you are going to love this proyect. ;)

If you have no experience flying I suggest the QBot from hobby king. Good start in learning to fly.

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