3D Robotics

T3 Contest, Season 2, Round 1: Synthetic Trappy!


You know the story: a FPV flier who goes by the handle of Trappy decided to prove something to someone and pulled a stunt in NYC a few weeks ago, filming a flight that went from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty, and posting and promoting it online. This has generated a huge amount of controversy in RC/FPV/UAV circles. We discussed it here, and suffice to say it was the general sense of most commentators that this was Very Bad: dangerous, reckless and casting our hobby in a very poor light.


The problem is that Trappy, who is actually a very accomplished FPV pilot with many impressive (and usually safe) videos before this one, flew a Zephyr around Manhattan in Class B Restricted Airspace, in the landing patterns of three major airports and far beyond line-of-sight. He also filmed it and sent it to the media, where it was widely shown on national TV. This is not only in violation of FAA rules, but it's also the kind of thing that can ruin it for all of us if legislators take this example as an opportunity to crack down on our hobby.


What should he have done instead? Well, if he wanted an aerial tour of New York City, he could have had a great one on a simulator. Thus the theme of T3, Season 2 Round 1: Synthetic Trappy!


This is a simulator round. It's winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and too cold for many DIY Drones members to fly. That's a perfect time to brush up on your UAV "hardware in the loop" (HIL) simulation skills. It's a great way to test your autopilots and code on the workbench in realistic but totally safe conditions by connecting them to a PC Flight Simulator like XPlane or FlightGear.


Your mission is to do the following: program your autopilot to recreate Trappy's mission and make an autonomously-created video that simulates the one Trappy made, showing the safe way to fly planes around NYC: in a simulator only!


WRONG (Trappy's original video):

RIGHT (A rough simulation of the flight in Google Earth):


Here's a KMZ file (shown at top) that roughly covers Trappy's route, as best as we can tell from the video, which probably involved several flights and has edits and out-of-order bits.  Here is the tour file that was used to create the above Google Earth video.



Your job is to create your own FPV NYC video, not by touring in Google Earth as I did above but instead by recording a simulated UAV flight using a HIL setup.


Here's how to get started with HIL simulation in ArduPilot Mega. You may want to use Happy Killmore's GCS to record your HIL sim and then replay it in First Person mode. Or maybe you have your own GCS or HIL setup that can do even better.Other autopilots have different HIL sims.


The judge (Gary Mortimer, as usual) will rank the submissions on closeness of simulation of Trappy's video, creative use of a UAV sim, and autonomous maneuvers that are particularly impressive (such as swooping down on bridges and alongside buildings). We don't really expect anyone will closely duplicate Trappy's routes; instead, we're more interested in the sim and mission-planning techniques you use. Crappy videos with cool tech will score well ;-)


As always, post your submissions in the comments below. Just an embeded YouTube video, a KMZ file of your simulated flight and description of your setup.  Winner will get their choice of a MediaTek GPS module or a magnetometer, but all entrants will get points for Season Two of the T3 contest.


Submissions must be in be 12:00 midnight PST on Sunday, Jan 30th.


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  • I have a few kids, cars, guns and uav's. Usually I don't feel much responsibility when the neighbours kids pi on the other neighbours doorstep, when people drives like maniacs, or when they abuse guns. So, why should I feel responsibility, or consern, when someone choose to do crazy stuff with model airplanes?

  • This was ALMOST a great thread. The reality however, is that it makes nothing more than a smudge campaign. If it was really about safety - or HIL then it would be each contestant posting 1 of their real flights, and then posting their simulated version of that same flight. I normally only agree w/ Gary E when it relates to fast cars/bikes... but I have to say that if one was REALLY concerned about this scenario getting less popularity this is a horrible start for newcomers to stumble on. GL with the contest.



  • Moderator
    We did consider another version as Chris has noted it will help show that the sUAS community thinks a little about their flights. If you can make a compelling simulation in another city then why not Mark!
  • T3

    In order to allay Gary Evans concerns, how about doing the contest it in a different city, such as Sydney?

  • Moderator
    Diego, every contracting ICAO state will have similar rules soon.
  • I agree with you Mr Chris, you can count on me participating in this competition. Here in my country we don´t have any regulations about this matter, but i fully understand the concequences in this case...... i hope other groups takes this idea too...

  • 3D Robotics
    Gary E., the point is to make a safety lesson: all UAV pilots should learn to use a simulator. This is a great example of why, to avoid taking unnecessary risks in the real world. I was inspired by the ATTF podcast, which devoted a recent hour to discussing the Trappy incident. I think that the beat way for the community to respond to a crisis like this is to propose solutions. Simulation is ours.
  • While this post does acknowledge the fact that the flight was illegal it unfortunately continues a story that would be best left to die. The act may have been the death blow to AMA's attempt to achieve self regulation with FAA and may arguably be the worse possible thing that could have occurred while negotiations are under way. Why would you want to give this clown more publicity?    

  • Moderator
    I will be most impressed by people that add weather into the simulation and complete the task with realistic speeds for their airframes. Perhaps Trappy ought to be a judge ;-)

    Go mad have fun, multicopters ought to be able to do well as they can descend down the face of things, but again no five hour endurance machines.
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