ArduPilot successful flight simulation

A photo of successful flight as seen in Google Earth and X-plane:

Here is another ArduPilot simulation inspired by Jordi's simulation.My simulation requires minimum additional hardware, all you need is ArduPilot connected by FTDI cable to PC.Actual simulation runs in X-plane simulator. ArduPilot get simulated GPS data over serial, and it returns back proposed servo positions back over serial as part of telemetry info (servos can also move physically). ArduPilot also reports bunch of variables - lat/lot/alt, next waypoint, distance to it, etc.What you need to repeat the simulation:- Modified ArduPilot code from this blog post- X-plane 9 demo (buy full version if you wish, but demo works just perfect, it only ignores joystick input after 10 minutes, but we control it other way so it really doesn't limit us)- Google Earth- ArduSimulator (developed by me), which is simple application that does following:1) Connects to ArduPilot over serial for sending/receiving data2) Connects to X-plane on localhost (same PC)3) Reads data from X-plane (lat/lon/alt/course), sending these to ArduPilot as GPS sentences4) Simulating FMA copilot stabilization on ailerons/elevator5) Reads and displays telemetry and servo positions from ArduPilot6) Sends servo positions to X-plane to control throttle and rudder7) Records fly path and sends it to Google Earth to displayHere's how to repeat the simulation:- Start X-plane, go to Menu->Settings->Net Connections, select tab Inet 3 and enable "IP of data receiver", change IP address to and port to 49001. It looks like this:

- Select Aircraft from folder Aircraft\Radio Control\GP_PT_60 (yes, we want to fly RC plane which has ail/elv/rud/thr controll)- Select airport Innsbruck- You can open this KML path: Innsbruck.kmz in Google Earth, which was my testing fly plan configured in ArduPilot; this will show you the waypoints- upload compiled ArduPilot code to the board and leave it running; LOCK LED should keep flashing- start ArduSim.exe (simulator tool); it will connect to serial port and X-plane; if it can't connect to serial, specify correct port and baudrate and press Start button- click [Google Earth] button in ArduSim to make connection with GE- hit B in X-plane to release brakes, and try keys A/W/C to choose various viewsNow simulation should be running if everything is connected successfully, and you should see plane in X-plane to fly and visualization path & icon in Google Earth to move. Don't control plane in X-plane! ArduPilot will take-off and fly on its own.Here's video how it all looks in action:And complete flight path visualization for Google Earth: Flight.kmzYou can see original waypoints in white, and real fly path in yellow. And also final circulation over start point when all waypoints were visited...Now about problems and future tasks:- I have strong impression that controlling altitude by throttle with use of copilot stabilization doesn't work properly, this simulation showed me that plane didn't want to drop altitude from high point to lower one... see results in above flight path in GE. I'm not sure how real plane behaves (didn't went out to real world with this yet), we'll see.- For this reason I plan to start playing with complete stabilization in ArduPilot, and controlling both elevator+throttle to get desired altitude.- You can play with dozen of various parameters to control behavior, most obvious are PID settings for throttle/rudder in ArduPilot, but also PID values in stabilization (which is here provided by simulator tool, in real world it is FMA Copilot which you can control by its sensitivity setting). Then you can change maximal servo rotation for ArduPilot to work with. All these values make the plane fly smoother, make more precise turns, etc etc. And the settings seem to depend on actual aircraft and its physical behavior. So there won't be single settings working for everyone.- It's somehow cumbersome to specify different altitude for various waypoints; while I converted waypoints from KML file out of Google Earth, I had to specify individual altitudes manually in waypoints.h file in ArduPilot code.After all, I'm pretty happy to see the plane flying in simulator and doing the task! Note that it's ArduPilot doing the navigation work. And in a real airplane, this simulation allows to reuse the ArduSim application as a base station, getting telemetry from plane over Xbee modem and displaying what it does as well as showing path in Google Earth.
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  • Throttle - it runs at full, overshooting target altitude, then runs at minimum, getting too low, etc... Same for yaw control.
  • Michal B,

    Is the oscilation caused by the elevators chasing the height or is the throttle chasing the height ??
  • Here's flight with interpolated altitude: Plane.kmz. A bit better.
    There's still apparent oscilation, need to set better PID variables...
  • Michal,
    creating additional waypoints with proportional increases in altitude along the line would probably help in a gradually increasing altitude as well as reducing XTE. The problem with introducing a gradual change in altitude as part of the code is that maybe that's not what you might want for every mission. I suppose that loading the version of ArduPilot you want to use is an option but to me it seems fairly easy to insert 'dummy' waypoints.

  • Awsome Work!
  • Developer
    HOOOO!!! Thanks Sami... Thats very interesting...
  • T3

    Looking at the source right now and yes, all the communication to Xplane is done through a single UDP socket..
  • Developer
    Michael are you sending commands to x-plane through UDP to control the aircraft?
  • Developer
    Hey Michael, if you want to hold altitude nicely you must use a PD control with the altitude, the output will go to another PID input that will control the climb rate (the climb rate output controls the elevator).... If you play with your simulator you will realize that is the best way, is like real autopilots... As soon you are reaching the desired altitude the derivative of the altitude error, will slowly reduce the climb rate to void overshoots... I was able to simulate and hold altitude smoothly like airliner.

    The problem is that we don't have very good climb rate in ardupilot, we must use a barometer... =/
  • T3

    Just realised that this will work with NXT just as well..! Well... With a little recoding anyways... The source, however, is a little puzzling with it's lack of comments and variables with confusing names (so it's just like my code basicly ;D ). But great work nonetheless!
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