Low-Cost Obstacle Detection System for DIY Drones


This summer, one of the interns at NavStik Labs, Saumya Saksena (an undergraduate student), built a low-cost obstacle detection kit using ultrasonic sensors. He also designed a custom web-app to configure his sensor-kit and visualise the obstacle data. This was an uphill task for a student with limited programming/development background. However, the generic data-sharing model, available within FlytOS, made it extremely simple for him to get it all done within a few days.

Saumya’s kit makes use of 4 ultrasonic sensors (later extended to 6), which are interfaced to an arduino board. This board, in turn, talks to FlytPOD (flight computer on the drone, running FlytOS) using rosserial. Since this architecture is built on top of ROS, getting the sensor data published into FlytOS was a piece of cake.


Sonar jig with Arduino                                           Sonar jig mounted under the  drone

With data-acquisition done, the next step was to develop a web-app to help him visualize the data from his kit, and configure his sensor parameters, such as polling rate, ability to disable/enable a certain sensor, etc. He spent an evening writing FlytSONAR (webapp) using the websocket and RESTful FlytAPIs to share data between his webapp and sensor kit. Further, he hosted this web-app on FlytPOD itself. Which means that he did not need to install any application on his local machine to configure the custom sensor or visualise data. He could just point the web-browser on his local machine to the IP address of the FlytPOD (FlytPOD has a powerful built-in wifi router, which can create a hotspot or connect to another router) and get access to his app on any laptop or mobile.


All the design files and arduino code for building this DIY kit are available here as a download. Check out our extensive documentation on using FlytAPIs for designing web-apps here.

Drones are evolving fast. New sensors, payloads, and algorithms are being developed, and new application areas are being discovered, everyday. It is, therefore, critical to have a robust, scalable data-sharing model in FlytOS. This enables all these components seamlessly share data with each other, and with other devices. FlytOS is built on top of ROS, making it a great platform to interact with various devices/payloads. It exposes high level FlytAPIs in ROS, C++, Python, REST and Websocket. The modular design of FlytOS allows for integration with external ROS/Linux libraries, and do custom data-plumbing between your onboard and offboard apps.


FlytPOD is now live on Indiegogo. Checkout the campaign and grab the early bird perks.

For more hacks to build powerful drone applications, check out following posts from past.

Chris Anderson backs FlytPOD

Flight computer with onboard wifi router

Visual object tracking and following for DIY drones

Drone color marker game using onboard computer vision in an hour

FlytAPIs for Computer vision on Drones (P1 Video Streaming)

FlytAPIs for Computer vision on Drones (P2 Object tracking and following)

FlytConsole: Web-based Customisable GCS Utility for FlytOS

Develop custom mobile user apps with FlytOS

FlytOS: Why, What, Who?

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  • Hi Nitin,

    Thank you for your response.

    I am very happy to hear that you are not dependent on the Indiegogo campaign.

    It very much seems as though you have an excellent system and team.

    And the application presented in this blog clearly indicates the potential utility of this system to developers.

    Best Regards,


  • Hello Gary,

    Just to allay your fears, we are a 3 years old investor-backed company with a very strong engineering/product team (domain experts from best universities of the world), working full-time on this product for last 1.5 years. We are going into production, irrespective of the success of Indiegogo campaign (although we are quite confident to meet the goal). In fact, we have already started working towards production.

    We understand that a lot of backers have concerns about Indiegogo projects. However, we love the idea of inviting users to support good products. This will help us size the production batch and have confirmed users to start working with immediately. In return, our early adopters get to avail special pricing and work closely with us to get their applications up and running. The product has been in beta for last 3-4 months, and a lot of refinements have been done in hardware and software based on feedback from users. The testimonials from domain experts (our beta users) are available for you to see.

    Our reputation is worth far more than 50k USD that we are seeking to raise through this campaign (please take a look at the profile of team members). We are not going anywhere; we are here to stay. Support us if you like the product. We will make sure that you love it :-)



  • Excellent work by Saumya Saksena !

  • I have faith in your product. Keep it up.
  • This is an excellent application for your FlytPOD and demonstrates how easy your system is to use.

    In my opinion, you really need to find some other way to fund it though, at your current rate of subscription it does not appear like you are even going to come close to your Indiegogo goal.

    I know that many if not all of you there still think that this is a reasonable way to go, but this is a development tool, not really being presented as an end user product.

    And there are very few active developers in this field and many of them have already settled on and are using one or another platform.

    And they are both technically and economically savvy so they also fear your Indiegogo Model and also the stated delay in delivery.

    If you are a developer you really want developer tools right now, because if you have to wait there is a very good chance something better will have come out in the mean time.

    This application alone, maybe with a bit of embellishment is a worthy end user product and there are a lot more potential end users and they are also much more willing to take a chance on a not yet ready or proven product.

    I am not saying this to offend you or discourage you, simply in the hopes that you can find some other way of proceeding, I have made this prediction many times before, I have not been wrong yet.

    I want to get one of these, but this approach simply will not work for you.

    My thought anyway.

    Best Regards,


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