SOLO Smart Drone lands smartly :)

Warning: I think this voids your warranty. :) We integrated an IR-LOCK sensor with a 3DR SOLO. This project was mostly for fun, so don't read too much into the flight performance shown in the video. We only had one test session, and we didn't tune any parameters. 

You might notice that the flight characteristics are similar to those in Randy's precision landing demonstration (link). We ported his code over to the ardupilot-solo repository for this demo. The repositories used for this test are here and here. Unfortunately, the SOLO does not expose the I2C bus that we typically use to connect the IR-LOCK sensor, so we tapped into the power and data lines (SDA/SCL) used by the compass. (btw, it's pretty cool that 3DR sells a SOLO compass leg



This video also demonstrates a new landing beacon (MarkOne) that we have developed. Initial details on MarkOne are here: Significant improvements have been made to the machine vision performance. Namely, we can operate in bright sunlight over water, cars, etc., without worrying about false detections. 

Recently, the precision landing code was pushed to the ArduCopter master, with the intent of having official support in AC3.4. The relevant developer conversation is here, and the ArduCopter wiki entry is here. As always, many thanks to the AC developers and community!

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  • Developer
    Really awesome!
  • @Randy

    Thanks. That would be VERY helpful, but I don't think any I2C is exposed in the final version of the accessory bay. Please correct me if I am wrong. 

    Here is a pinout illustration by Jason Short:


    Here is an accessory breakout board by Philip Rowse:


  • Developer


    That is really great!  I love the no-holds-barred hacking to get the I2C working.

    It's possible to change to use the I2C port that's somewhere in the accessory pay by changing the irlock driver startup here.

    if irlock start -b 2

    Looks like a bright day but the new beacon seems to be working fine!

  • @Marcus

    I promise we have given it serious consideration. :) But I think there may be some technical limitations related to the sensor system. The detection range is limited to around 15 meters, which works great for Copters.... The range can be extended, but probably not enough to accommodate for the rapid closing rate of a fixed wing. I am not sure. 

    I am interested in the Tiltrotor (VTOL) developments. Obviously, integration with a VTOL fixed wing would be straightforward. 

  • @Daniel McKinnon

    Thanks! Definitely, we will keep you updated. 

    @Daniel Nugent

    The controls code is nothing new. We were more concerned with getting things 'talking' to each other, so we just used some code that Randy wrote a while back. We chose the version that was easiest to port over to the ardupilot-solo repository (back when AC3.3 had .pde files).

    We plan to create remote operation features (via the cloud), which are enabled by the Photon or other modules. The usefulness will become more apparent when we get the cellular version out the door. Obviously, the Wifi version has limited remote control features because it requires an access point (e.g., router), but there is no guarantee on when the cellular version will be ready for beta.

    There are arduino-like Wifi/Cellular development tools that already exist, but we don't want to carry the burden of running all of the cloud back-end stuff, such as security/encryption, guaranteeing cloud up-time, and so much more. Our time is wrapped up in the machine vision tech and drone integrations. 

  • Nice to see a project managed so well.   Now for fixed wings, right!!!

  • Nice job guys!

    Is this with the velocity controller?

    Why did you use the spark/photon instead of a regular arduino?


  • 3D Robotics

    Nice job, Thomas! Can't wait to get my hands on one of these!

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