Introducing the world of autonomous piloting to Dymola: How to use Ardupilot in your drone model

In our most recent Dymola release, we have introduced the UAVDynamics library. It can model the hardware and flight physics of a drone, but it also comes with a new capability: linking up to an intelligent drone piloting software that will allow it to fly real virtual missions.

Meet Ardupilot, the world’s most popular open source drone control software, equally useful in both a real drone and a simulated one. It gives your Dymola model new tests to put your vehicle through: realistic flight maneuvers, failures mid-air and navigation through a real-life map.  

Figure1: An example of Ardupilot and Mission Planner being used. Dymola provides the physics behind it.

Figure1: An example of Ardupilot and Mission Planner being used. Dymola provides the physics behind it.

There is a range of piloting options: allow the programme full autonomy to fly a pre-set mission, or override its sensibilities and attempt some acrobatics with direct, real-time control. Common tasks given to drones such as hovering at a specific altitude, landing or taking-off with toggled landing gears can also be performed. There is compatibility with a variety of vehicle types, from aeroplane-like to quadcopter-like drones, and powerful extensions to support the programme – the user-friendly Mission Planner interface and Dronekit, ardupilot’s own python2 library for scripting missions.

The UAVDynamics library’s other new feature extends the design insight that Dymola can give. Below is the failure modes block. It lets you simulate many types of mid-air failures, from a reduction in thrust in one propeller to multiple losses of blades.

Figure 2: The icon of the failure modes block

Figure 2: The icon of the failure modes block

Figure 3: The menu of failure modes available. See the manual for a full explanation of all of them

Figure 3: The menu of failure modes available. See the manual for a full explanation of all of them

There are two powerful visualisation tools available in Dymola and in Ardupilot. One is the animation feature in Dymola which will let you assess how the drone flies timestep-by-timestep:

Video: An animation of a drone failing in-flight. The arrows represent thrust from the propellers.

And another is the telemetry logs feature in Ardupilot, which can plot the entire flight path in a relevant area on Google Earth:

Figure 4: Some flights performed in Ardupilot visualised on Google Earth, using its telemetry logs

Figure 4: Some flights performed in Ardupilot visualised on Google Earth, using its telemetry logs

We hope you find the integration of this software with our UAVDynamics library useful.

Written by: David Dubinsky – Project Engineer

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