Use an open-source flight simulator to test your UAVs

Tom Pycke, who is one of the more sophisticated UAV hobbyists, has a good post showing how to use the open-source Flight Gear simulator program to test your autopilot code.

He begins:

"A lot of people think they need great electronics skills, a lot of time, and embedded programming skills to experiment with Kalman filtering of IMU-data. Think again! The key to all your success stories is simulation!

One of the easiest tools that can help you with those simulations, is a great flight sim called Flight gear. It uses advanced aerodynamics simulation libraries, among which some were created by the NASA. Good enough for our purposes! On top of that, you can easily configure Flightgear to log all the data you need. I updated my config file to log the following variables:

  • Roll
  • Pitch
  • Acceleration along the 3 axis
  • Gyro reading along the 3 axis
  • Heading
  • Airspeed"

He includes sample VB code, too (yes, you can code a Kalman in VB!). Read it all here.

Views: 4464

Comment by Peter Klemperer on November 22, 2007 at 9:59am
The people in the lab next to mine have a Piccolo autopilot which uses some non-graphical simulator, does anyone know what that might be?
Comment by Cory on March 6, 2008 at 10:24pm
In the screen capture in the post, how are you getting flightgear to display the information in green
Comment by Neelima Chanchlani on April 9, 2009 at 10:23am
I am developing a project and want to have a UAV simulator. Could you guide me into developing one.
Comment by adil raja on May 25, 2016 at 4:57am

This thread seems to be old but useful. I wonder if someone can refer to a tutorial paper on as to how to integrate machine learning with flight gear. It would be really nice to reflect on the flightgear variables that can be useful for modeling as well as any mathematical models that are already used in UAV control.

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