Jordi's really outdone himself this time! He created a amazing full-featured simulator for ArduPilot that does the following:

  • Uses the servo output from the autopilot or RC controller (depending on which one is selected by the MUX) to "fly" a plane in the X-Plane flight simulator, via a custom interface he's designed around this ARM board.
  • Also flies the plane in manual RC mode with RC controller output going through the MUX and then into the ARM board.
  • Displays the plane's attitude and other flight telemetry with a custom Ground Station built in LabView.
  • Uses LabView to simulate the FMA Co-Pilot, stabilizing the plane in flight using PID loops.
  • Display the plane's position in a moving map using Google Maps, which also shows waypoints.

As you'll observe in the videos here, you can see the plane's:

1) Flight in X-Plane
2) Glass cockpit with full telemetry and debug data in the Ground Station
3) Overhead position and path in Google Maps

Here's a diagram that shows how everything is connected:

You'd note that he's using using the ArduPilot Pro board with just one atmega installed for this. (the other atmega does stabilization, which we're doing in the LabView Ground Station for this demo.) It's the board we use for development, since it's easy to replace atmega chips. It's best to have at least two computers and three screens for this, as you'll see in the video.

Video 1 (above) just shows the setup
Video 2 (below) shows the plane taking off in manual mode, switching to autonomous and flying to first two waypoints
Video 3 (below) shows the plane flying to the last two waypoints, and switching back to manual mode and landing.

Video 2

Video 3

Full code and instructions on how to create this simulation setup coming soon.

Views: 2623

Comment by Pat on December 2, 2008 at 5:27pm
How will the ground station communicate with the UAV?

XBee wireless seems like a natural fit, but I have not seen mention of this being included in the Ardupilot designs.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 2, 2008 at 5:45pm
We've haven't implemented radio telemetry yet, but the hardware can support it (via the FTDI serial connector)
Comment by Pat on December 2, 2008 at 8:50pm
Another approach that avoids a full, 2-way radio link is to use an on-screen display if the plane already has a video downlink. This OSD looks pretty nice, not overly expensive ($100) and should be able to interface to the existing Ardupilot serial connector for real-time telemetry. A full 2-way command and telemetry system for the UAVs should be a long term goal for DIY Drones (which I am extremely excited about working on), but this OSD may be a good first step.
Comment by automatik on December 2, 2008 at 10:18pm
That OCD looks interesting....however if video is routed to a computer (if it is part of the ground station) it's fairly trivial, using software, to display information on top of that video feed - it can be overlayed for faster real time viewing/processing or "merged" into video stream for recording, etc.
jordi, any chance that you can post labview code from simulation?
Comment by Pat on December 2, 2008 at 11:04pm
I'm not sure what you mean by this. The data that is of interest to the ground station is on board the UAV in the ArduPilot. One method of getting that data to the ground in real-time is to use a dedicated telemetry link which could be displayed by Labview. That is what I was mentioning when I talked about using an XBee. The second method is to overlay the data on the images of the video stream if it exists. However, once on the ground, there is no discrete representation of the data- it is all embedded as part of the video images. That isn't neccessarily a bad thing, especially if the data is also recorded in the Ardupilot for later analysis.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on December 3, 2008 at 12:43am
X-Plane is an interesting program at least as regards the author. One guy started writing it in 1994 & has made enough money selling it for $60 a copy to fly real airplanes & buy a ride in Spaceship 2. Even though it's not open source, people still love it. Compare to your average Silicon Valley staff programmer, who puts in the same amount of work and is lucky to make next month's rent.

Comment by Jordi Muñoz on December 3, 2008 at 11:52am

Yes I'm planning to release the code soon. Is very urgent?

Comment by Jordi Muñoz on December 3, 2008 at 11:54am

Que onda! Yes i still in Swiss, i will return this December 10, so maybe i can see you, how is going the project?
Comment by automatik on December 3, 2008 at 7:02pm
Hi jordi,
no it's not urgent - I am just curious....
Comment by Gagarien on January 18, 2009 at 4:33pm
Hi. Anybody else have a simulation set up for Ardupilot or suggestions? thx.


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