9 Drone Formation Test

This was a simple test to autonomously launch and coordinate a 9-Drone formation and return. This was planned and coordinated with Systems Tool Kit (STK). You can see some footage and some of the STK visualization and analysis in the video. Plans for some more demonstrations and tests to follow!

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  • @DroneRanger are you aware that PaparazziUAV already does what you are trying to do with STK? You might want to check it out for reference, at a minimum. Last summer I did multiple flight tests with aircraft flying in formation, fully autonomous, fully monitored with a Paparazzi UAV. It's also a true open-source project. Here are some links to video of the flights, remember fully autonomous from launch-to-land.

    Video HooperFly Flying Robots Daytime (3 aircraft)
    Video HooperFly Flying Robots Nighttime (3 aircraft)
    Video HooperFly Flying Robots (2 aircraft)

    With Paparazzi UAV, I know my flights are well managed and safe with redundant methods for gracefully handling unforeseen flight anomalies. Like I mentioned, it's worth at least referencing the design so you can think about how that translates into your STK exploration. Cheers.

  • Yes, right now they are going to their necessary position and simply holding, but those circular positions are all being created based off of one single point.  In other words, I can simply move a single point on my planner and all relative positions would change.  I hope that makes sense.

    Positions (relative to one another) can be monitored via the STK plugin and decisions made from that information.  This was a first case test to simply get them all up in the air and monitoring them.  Don't rain on my parade man!  :)  

    But in all seriousness, I want to be able to use the central system next to command each drone based on conditions calculated from the returned telemetry from all drones.  Not necessarily flying "cool" formations but more along the lines of redirecting out of restricted areas, monitoring for collisions and applying rules to mitigate those, etc. 

    So, maybe read the title of this as '9 Drones IN a Formation...for now'.  

  • After watching the video I do not see any formation control there. I mean, I see nine independent quadcopters going to nine different positions, or am I wrong?

    Do they control (in a distributed fashion, i.e. without any central ground station) their relative positions? collision avoidance? would they reorganize themselves if one drone joins/leave the formation? In affirmative case, what algorithms/technology are you employing?

    p.d. In any case, to have nine quadcopters flying and only two? people monitoring is always a nice first step.

  • I blogged about this before, but I use a User Interface Plugin written in .NET to add realtime monitoring, command & control, and some post flight analysis to Systems Tool Kit.  You can see some of it here in this video:

    The tricky part that i haven't been able to sort out is that I can't arm the quads in AUTO mode, so I am arming them, flipping into AUTO, and then tap the throttle a bit to send them all on their way.

    For deconfliction I am going to be adding some algorithms to the STK side to monitor positions/speeds/modes/etc.  and make some "intelligent" decisions on what actions to command for specific drones.  That will be coming, but on the list of things to add!

  • After watching this video again, it looks like this is just 9 aircraft with 9 transmitters, not really any autonomy other than flight to a hold position. Where is the integrated GCS showing the aircraft and what safety measures are in place to guarantee safe flight?
    If you are launching multiple aircraft with less than an equal number of humans to monitor them, you really need to have redundant interfaces/radios to interact with the aircraft if there's a flight anomaly. What GCS are you using to monitor all the aircraft health?

  • It would be great to see those fly as part of Global Synchronized Autonomy #1 (GSA 1) taking place on June 25th, 2016 @ 17:00 UTC. There will be practice countdowns leading up to the event as well as coding stubs/mobile apps to help you trigger your autonomy. The loverobot.org site will be evolving to accommodate the various efforts.PaparazziUAV users are ready to roll and there are code stubs that can be used to trigger MAVLink commands as well.

    Love Robot
    Empathetic exploration of robotics
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