Michael Oborne has recently improved the Mission Planner’s Swarming feature so we tested it out at the recent developer “un-conference” in Canberra Australia.
First we tried one drone following another:
Then a pair of drones following (or sometimes leading) a rover:
If you want to try it yourself, here’s how:
- connect to each drone individually and set it’s SYSID_THISMAV to a unique value (i.e. “1” for the first drone, “2” for the second, etc)
- connect to all drones at once by plugging in the appropriate telemetry radio for each drone into the PC.
- right-mouse-button-click on the MP’s menu bar and select “Connection Options”. If you have multiple radios connected they should each appear in the drop-down. Select each and press Connect. During our tests we used 1x3DR radio, 1xRFD900 radio and finally wifi for the Solo.
- from the Mission Planner’s flight data screen press Ctrl-F to display the hidden controls window. Find and click the Swarm button.
- from the Swarm Control screen use the drop-down in the middle to select the lead vehicle and press “Set Leader”
- place the vehicles on the ground in roughly the initial positions you’d like them to be in during flight, press the “Update Pos” button.
- get all the followers in the air first by pushing the “Arm (exl leader)” button, then “TakeOff” (it will climb to 5m).
- manually arm and take-off with the leader using the regular transmitter. Get the leader at roughly the same height as the followers (i.e. 5m).
- click Start to start all the followers following the leader
- if the followers act strangely push the stop button to stop them from trying to follow, use the “Land (all)” button to bring them down.
This swarming makes use of ArduPilot’s velocity controller which have been included in Copter since version 3.3 meaning that it works with the Solo.
Warning: this is beta software and although you may not need to use a transmitter to control the followers, it’s best to have a regular transmitter/receiver attached and the flight mode switch setup for use in Loiter and/or AltHold so if anything happens, worst case, the pilot can grab the transmitter and change the flight mode and take control manually.