This is spring time and thus the ThermoPilot project is still under intensive development (now the v6.x version) and real tests flights can be conducted because the thermal upwards can be hunted above the fields... Below a sample log flight during a full autonomous thermal hunting in free mode.



 Here a flight log during a 23 km of full autonomous cross country soaring mission in closed loops with 5 waypoints.


An ArduPilot Mega 2560 is installed on the Cularis e-Glider with the ThermoPilot v6.x firmware (an enhanced version of  the ArduPlane v2.33). The ThermoPilot v6.0 includes a lot of improvements for the cross country soaring and the thermal hunting and some dedicated ML algorithms to do a close following of the thermal upwards.


Below the Cularis e-Glider and its big brother, the Fashionista: a 5 meters wingspan e-Glider (a very good thermal hunter)...







During the summer and the spring 2012, the ThermoPilot project will be very active in the air... Stay tuned...

Regards, Jean-Louis

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  • Developer

    Here a video of the ThermoPilot v6.4 in action during a Ridge Soaring simulation in HIL mode. This is a true glider model without motor. There is a 20 knots wind from the south blowing on the ridge. The ThermoPilot is set in AUTO mode to hunt the dynamics upwards from the ridge.



  • Developer

    JL, if
    you think to release hex at the end of this summer I think I'll have to wait until the summer of 2013 to try it! :P

    He has no intention to release the code, but only compiled?

    Bests, Marco

  • Developer

    Here a video of the ThermoPilot v6.4 in action during a Slope Soaring simulation in HIL mode. This is a true glider RC-model without motor. There is a 16 knots front wind on the slope, the glider is taking off from the ground in STABILIZE mode, then the ThermoPilot is set in AUTO mode to hunt the dynamics upwards from the slope.

    This HIL simulation is done with X-Plane v9.70 and an APM v1.4 board.

    Regards, Jean-Louis


  • Moderator
    @Jean-Louis, impressive as always.
  • Developer

    Hello Gilbert,

    To aswer to your questions: In the ThermoPilot, I am applying my back experience from many years of RC gliding/soaring and also as a true glider pilot. To understand better the cross country soaring methods, I recommend you to read carefully the "Training for Cross Country Soaring" from the Dr Helmut Reichmann.

    The glider stop to turn when three events occurs:

    - the lift begins null or negative,

    - the current altitude begins greater than the ceiling altitude preset in the APM with the mission planner,

    - the altitude is greater than the delta-altitude of the track between two waypoints.

    When the glider leave the thermal it continu to follow its flight plan.

    At this moment the ThermoPilot is still in alpha phase, but it will be soon beta and I shall release the ThermoPilot hex code at the end of summer for some testers and experienced pilots in gliding/soaring and which have a similar setup than the mine: a good RC e-glider and a fully installed APM 2560 on board with a airspeed probe.

    Regards, Jean-Louis

  • This is very, very cool. I have a ton of questions about it.

    1. How do you determine which way to turn into the thermal?

    2. How do you determine the optimum bank angle?

    3. How does the aircraft determine when it is time to leave the thermal and continue the flight?

    4. How does the aircraft determine when a thermal is worth chasing outside the flight path, and how does it determine how far to chase it?

    5. How does the aircraft respond to plain turbulence? (i.e. will a few bounces cause it to start searching or does it need something for a certain amount of time?

    6. I know that this project is still in the alpha phase, but is/ can the code be put online because I would love to learn about how this works and hopefully contribute to the project. If you would like to continue going solo, that's understandable but I would still love to add some things to it and perhaps start up a new "competing" project with some other DIYD members with your code as a base and see where we both take it!



  • Developer

    Hello Veikko, a long endurance flight with a minimum use of the onboard energy is my main target. I need to wait a bit to have the best weather conditions, I think that this will can be done in spring when the thermal upwards will be optimal...

  • Developer

    Hello Veikko,

    This now possible with the ThermoPilot v6.4, at this moment I am conducting real tests in flights in a 500x500m box, with a 50m AGL floor and a 200m ceiling (with the SARSEC mode) with my Cularis and the APM 2560 v1.4. These parameters are defined with the mission planner and special parameters set for the ThermoPilot.

    i.e. below a thermal hunting box, a square of 1000x1000m size done with the SARGRID mode:


    In the ThermoPilot parameter (called TP_xxxxx):

    - the ceiling is defined with the parameter TP_MAX_ALT, here 200 meters,

    - the floor is defined with the parameter TP_MIN_ALT, here 50 meters,

    - the box size with the parameter TP_SARSEC, here 1000 meters,


    There are others parameters which define the type of the patterns used for the thermal hunting:

    - SARSEC = a four sector pattern (a kind of SAR sector pattern)

    - SARGRID = a squared grid (as above)

    - SARCYL = a simple cylinder defined by the radius, the floor and the ceiling.

    Regards, Jean-Louis

  • Very cool! Thought of the idea two years ago! Had no idea how to approach it. I didnt have the knowledge and skill. The funny thing is, that plane was one of my choices for the project also. Haha. I love that someone else though of it and made it work!

  • Developer

    Here a log of a real tests flights during a full autonomous Cross-Country Soaring mission done today with the ThermoPilot v6.3d and the Cularis e-Glider. You may notice that the gained altitude during the thermal hunt has been about 147 meters in the south sector of the generated pattern.


    Regards, Jean-Louis

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