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 understand that weather simulation is still not running for some southern city. Weather forecast were not done properly in those city in the past.The video could clearly distinguish between the simulator and the real flight. Would it be wiser to run with the existing patch or to wait until A debugged version is available? Anyway I am not flying during Christmas holidays.

  • Moderator
    The BBC followed storks with an RC glider across the Bosphorus a few years ago, made some lovely footage.
  • @Trappy,

    We are waiting you on Istanbul. Bosphorus is perfect on spring and we have unbelievable old buildings and places that all of ones on sea side. We are planning to cross Europe side to Asia side of Istanbul.  It is great promotion for Istanbul too. Here is the place that we will cross over.

    kiz_kulesi.jpgSimulator experience is important for everyone and i think Chris is right for own conditions. But i will choose the real life (with HD camera) for Istanbul.

  • @ Sentry

    By your LOGIC: You feel good when someone does not make sense? That makes you a GENIOUS :)


    Trappy RESPECT!

  • 3D Robotics



  • ^^ I feel all mushy inside when some1 just MAKES SENSE. You sir, are a genius. That is all.



  • The Hudson river is not populated, even if there are a few barges moving through it. The flight is a beautiful piece of art, safely produced, and deserves in my opinion the protections of the First Amendment. The Pilot should of course compensate the city for all real damages ($0), and the city should compensate the artist for the good will and attention ($>0) and I think those who enjoy the right to publish should be wary of criminalizing other publishers. (I've been convicted for publishing held Supreme Court opinions - so I guess I've earned the right to carp on the topic.)


    My opinion is that the US (the FCC and the FAA specifically)  has created a regulatory disadvantage for US makers which violates core principles such as the right to earn food to eat, and such outweighs the imaginary complaint that flying a toy over a river imposes an unacceptabe risk on anything other than the plane itself (been there). My 2cents. If you are pushing foam and balsa - you're not a threat in my book.




  • If i said something wrong, please correct me ;) just state the facts!
  • The flight was illegal, but fun! Like most of the illegal things :)

    But when someone tells me that it was DANGEROUS!!!! com'n....

    I have seen numerous FPV flights over denser populated areas than Hudson river, where majority of the flight took place.

    Inside B class airspace... He posted danger only to that A320 ditching in Hudson after hitting a flock of goose. All other IFR traffic is well above.

    I am pretty sure that if it had been done in any other city in the states (also inside B class CTR) it wouldn't produce that much of a interest to the general public.

    Partly because it was stunning and beautifully, and partly because of a 9/11 syndrome (depending on how you look at it).

    Pick your side :)



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