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Getting started with quadrocopters

We often get contacted by people interested in getting started with quadrocopters. The goal of this page is to provide some links to (what we believe) is relevant information about quadrocopter basics and answer some questions about our system.

Please note that the Flying Machine Arena does not consist exclusively of quadrocopters. The system contains: a motion capture system that provides position and attitude information; computers for running control and estimation algorithms; and radio links to communicate with the vehicles. Furthermore, a simulator and various algorithms developed in-house support the different projects.

An overview of the system can be found in the paper “Lupashin, S.; Hehn, M.; Mueller, M.W., Schoellig, A.P., Sherback, M., D’Andrea, R, “A platform for aerial robotics research and demonstration: The Flying Machine Arena,” Mechatronics, Volume 24, Issue 1, 2014, pp. 41–54″ (PDF).

Modeling

For information on modeling quadrocopters, we refer to the following papers describing the details the mathematical equations governing quadrocopter flight. The first paper also provides details on the Flying Machine Arena architecture, and infrastructure.

  • Lupashin, S.; Hehn, M.; Mueller, M.W., Schoellig, A.P., Sherback, M., D’Andrea, R, “A platform for aerial robotics research and demonstration: The Flying Machine Arena,” Mechatronics, Volume 24, Issue 1, 2014, pp. 41–54
    PDF, Elsevier link
  • Mahony, R.; Kumar, V.; Corke, P., “Multirotor Aerial Vehicles: Modeling, Estimation, and Control of Quadrotor,” Robotics & Automation Magazine, IEEE , vol.19, no.3, pp.20,32, Sept. 2012
    IEEE link

Electronics and flight control

There are a number of open-source multicopter projects out there, such as the Pixhawk PX4 (the electronics are open-source, as is the source code). While our quadrocopters are based on the ‘Hummingbird’ quadrotor made by Ascending Technologies, we have replaced the on-board controls by the Pixhawk PX4 FMU electronics.

Below are listed some other interesting projects, and their wikis & forums would also be good places to look for further information:

Not what you were looking for? Got a tip?

Let us know in case you did not find the information you were looking for, or if you know of a great resource to help people get started.