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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  • Moderator
    Marcus, don't worry about timing for entries, we are normally very lax on that sort of thing ;-)
  • Marcus FahlénComment by Marcus Fahlén just now

    The infamous "Manhattan Tour" done in a little different style, way and environment....
    I had no hardware resources left in my computers to make the recording by frame-grabbing. I had to use an old Olympus Camedia 5050 Zoom (which is a very nice camera), but extremely crappy as camcorder, especially when you are trying to shoot whats going on at two different screens at the same time in addition to a bunch of hardware wired together like a crows nest ;)

    This will have to do. It illustrates the full hardware setup, including all control surface servos and a targeting camera which always points in the direction of the current waypoint. The Autopilot used is a modified UDB3 with development firmware. The data was pushed over a XBee link. Everything was true to life, except engine...

     Te whole flight is autonomous except the landing which actually was an emergency landing since I went out of fuel after a number of faulty flights. (I forgot to refuel...) The landing was to happen a LaGuardia, on the same runway as the take-off took place. Now It happened in the "dirt" a few km from the airport. ( I strictly followed the airspace regulations for this flight and had clearance from the tower :)  


  • This might work better:



  • Here is my planning for the "Manhattan Tour drone flight":

  • I have a submission, but I have had a LOT of problems. First of all I went out of hardware resources to record the thing, so I ended up using my old Olympus Camedia 5050 Zoom to shoot the screens. It ended up being a Quicktime  .MOV file at 500+ MB which I don't have editing tools for. The limit for YuoTube is 500MB I.I.R.C. anyway, It's on it's way up onto YouTube. In the meantime I will try to figure out why I cant convert my telemetry data to .KMZ format. It has always worked before.


    Info about the setup:


    COMPLETE hardware setup as it would have been in the drone with stabilized camera and all servos for control surfaces visual in picture. Autopilot used: UDB3 with development firmware.

    Airframe: Modified and scaled down MQ-9 Reaper. 

    Autonomous take-off from LA Guardia airfield, runway 22 and emergency landing on a field just outside La Guardia since I went out of fuel. (Successful landing with no damage to airframe whatsoever).


    I hope I'm not running out of time posting my .KMZ file, but rigth now I have no idea why it doesn't read my whole file, just the first minute (take-off). The flight duration is approx 31 minutes from take-off to landing.


    I'll post the link to the YouTube video as soon as it's finished uploading (if it ever will be since it's too long for You Tube's rules of 15 minutes...)


    Best regards



  • T3

    Link doesn't appear to work. Try Again.



  • T3

    Here is a link to my entry. Could use some polishing, but it'll work for now.



     I've included the way points in the KMZ file so it wont auto run the flight when you double click on it (at least not on my machine)  so after loading into GE just double click on the flight section and it should start.

    Looking at Trappy"s run it appears he covered a lot of ground (assuming he did it all in one run), almost 6 or 7 miles in each direction. As a consequence, this is a long flight. Remember the fast forward button for the long boring stretches.


    My usual setup.

    Autopilot: PICPilot

    6 DOF sim: Flightgear 1.9.1

    Control surface data passed to Flightgear from PICPilot via USB interface and custom app. Flightgear passes body rates and accelerations along with GPS position back to PICPilot for attitude and navigation processing. I added a feature to the application to record the kmz flight file on the fly.


    Still seems like you can't post files directly when replying to posts, only when starting a new one. Once again I started to create a new post and uploaded the file, then copied the link back to this post. Hopefully it worked.




  • 3D Robotics
    We're at one entry so for (Michael), with two weeks to go. C'mon folks---get your HIL sims running. They're awesome and a must for anyone serious about UAV development. You don't have to do anything fancy---just a few clicks in the Mission Planner will be enough to generate a credible entry, and it's fun to tweak to do even better.
  • Moderator
    Well I'm glad I am seeing interest in this, I thought we were going to have the very first nil entries!
  • Thanks Michael.

    I'll work through that and see how far I get, I don't think that guide was there last time I looked at the wiki.  I'm still interested to know if anyone is using the original AP in this competition, sometimes it feels like the entire comunity has moved over to APM!



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