Every few years, someone creates another smartphone-based autopilot (I did my first back in 2007!). And because smartphones get better each year, so do the smartphone autopilots. They haven't yet been  as good as dedicated autopilots (which increasingly use the same smartphone chips, but used with better sensors), but it's a very useful experiment regardless. Here's the latest one, from the University of Nottingham.

Here it is in flight:

Views: 1554

Comment by Roberto Navoni on July 18, 2015 at 3:31am

The audio output is not so good for control the servo the resolution of control is very low as the frequency of control very low ... 

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 18, 2015 at 5:58am

Complexly simple. I think I would have put Buzz on the top though.

Comment by MHefny on July 18, 2015 at 6:36am

They could use up to 8 channels ... using TX using this approach

Comment by MHefny on July 18, 2015 at 6:42am

Another approach is to use the IOIO board.

Comment by Marc Dornan on July 18, 2015 at 6:55am

Chris -- University of Nottingham, not University of Cambridge. May want to edit that. 

Comment by Marc Dornan on July 18, 2015 at 7:01am

The URL, I should say.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on July 18, 2015 at 7:04am

It's great as a learning experience, but completely wrong approach if it is meant to end up as a dedicated high performance autopilot.

1. More expensive since you need a smartphone with lots of unneeded parts like screen and so on.

2. Sub optimal design where sensors are not selected for our application, there is no external GPS antenna, lack of low latency input/output for control etc.

3. A LOT of software overhead (Linux + Android/Java) causing lots of potential problems and uncertainty

Comment by robert bouwens on July 18, 2015 at 7:14am


one positive thing is debugging :)

the uncertainty you mention is prob. you don't know anything about android.

Comment by Marc Dornan on July 18, 2015 at 7:39am

It is clear that it is a learning exercise and not an effort to turn a smartphone into a commercial grade autopilot-- they are students. If they can achieve adequate control with the multiplexed audio outputs, the plan is to use the radios in the phone to do interesting things. Wi fi cell mapping, anti-collision with 2 such devices. It is clever.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 18, 2015 at 8:03am

Thanks for the catch, Marc. Fixed


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