Advice for a Beginner of Drone Control Systems


I am part of a team of students who are working on developing the use of an automated drone to inspect infrastructure. Does anyone have any advice on where to begin or what resources would be useful in determining what software or control systems can be used for a drone that requires to be flown by an autopilot to a specified set of coordinates and also take stable images at those coordinates. A key part of this is a control system that can adapt to wind and drafts to keep the drone stable while it takes images.

Thanks for your help.

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Hi @Nickk

PX4 supports that pretty much out of the box. Documentation is here:
Do you need more specific information?

I’ve never tried an automated mission, so don’t take this as gospel.
With flight controllers such as thePX4 variety recommended, I imagine that you can fly to various waypoints, but can you orient the drone where you want it at each WP. There are modes that can stabilise the drone, which I imagine can be active during the flight. From my position of ignorance I am just suggesting you check the orientation question. Is it meant to be automated or do you envisage adjusting as you approach or arrive at a WP manually?

Hi @bkueng

Thanks for the link! The documentation is very useful.

Hi Ken,

What are these models that you are referring to that can stabilise the drone? I would really like to investigate them further.

Also, we are still in the very early stages of design and the extent of the automation question. I think a priority for us is making sure the drone can stabilise while photos are taken for inspections however it would be useful to have the ability to set the drone multiple waypoints to travel to automatically and then manually take over only if necessary.

Thank you for the response!

Not models, MODES. You could start by examining Ground Control Stations (GCS) documentaion. There are quite a lot of GCS offerings. A GCS is the software on your computer that you use to connect to the drone’s Flight Controller, e.g. a PX4 flight controller type. Look for documentation for Mission Planner - for example. That talks about automated missions and camera well as “planning a mission with waypoints and events”.
Modes are control states such as PosHold (position hold) which uses GPS to keep the drone at one point in space. Stabilised Mode, as mentioned, keeps the drone steady while limiting throttle travel. There is a list of modes you will see when connected to your GCS.
Other GCS software may offer their own control options though mostly the are common.
Multiple waypoints are “standard”. A mission with one waypoint is silly. The last waypoint by the way should be your home position.
I suspect you may need to compromise a little - do your research.
If in range of WiFi from a laptop or tablet GCS, you can command your waypoints as you fly, using a map on the laptop/tablet device. You might ask if you can boost a laptop WiFi range -possibly?