Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

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VAdroneflier
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Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 22 Oct 2013, 13:05

I am proposing this thread to be the focal point for raising questions and discussing issues, procedures, warnings and experiences related to autonomous flights of the ARDrone-2 with Flight Recorder and ARDrone Flight Pro. The present situation in which bits and pieces of this topic are scattered here and there makes it difficult to keep abreast of the developing knowledge base on the subject. So y'all come! Share your wisdom. Share your problems.

VAdroneflier
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 22 Oct 2013, 14:18

Okay, so I'll start us off with this tidbit from a PM with Shawn.

In ARDrone Flight Pro, a waypoint data file for all specified waypoints is sent in its entirety to the drone before the drone embarks on its autonomous flight. The drone reads that file and flies from point to point with no further instructions needed from the Android controlling device. This means that, in THEORY at least, the drone can fly outside WiFi control range during part of the flight plan and then re-enter the WiFi zone to complete the plan, whereupon it should be possible to regain normal manual control. If, however, your flight plan terminates outside WiFi control range, your drone is NOT going to return home on its own and (naturally) you will not be able to send it a Return Home command!

I've just recently received my Flight Recorder and will soon test this theoretical capability in both horizontal range and in altitude. I'll be doing the test using a flight tether until I 'm sure that everything works okay and the drone returns reliably.

Has anyone else already flown the ARDrone-2 on an autonomous flight out of, and back into, WiFi control range?

shawnf
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by shawnf » 23 Oct 2013, 09:06

I know JJK has flown out of range and back.
I haven't personally, but that's down to being in a UK town with not much room...
When I go to Devon in a couple of weeks I'll let you know...always assuming we get some flying weather, not the heavy rain and high wind there has been recently ;-)
With the latest Params button, you can at least set a flight radius using the MAVLink settings, so you don't have to go too far to get back in Wi-Fi range.

VAdroneflier
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 23 Oct 2013, 13:46

Thanks Shawn. Speaking of your Params button, I notice there is a parameter that specifies max speed. The current default value is set at only 2 m/s which amounts to a little less than 4.5 mph. If we increase that value, can we get faster autonomous flight in ARDrone Flight Pro autonomous mode? Or is the case that the operating speed of the Flight Recorder GPS system is too slow to support faster autonomous flight without losing position fix accuracy during the flight?

Over on the IOS side of the house, those folks have been complaining about the very slow autonomous flight speed when flying with Parrot's Free Flight. They have already observed that increasing allowable tilt angle in the Free Flight setup screen does NOT increase the maximum flight speed attained in autonomous flight.

shawnf
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by shawnf » 24 Oct 2013, 07:04

Yes this is the autonomous flight speed, so you can use it to go faster.
The Flight Recorder runs at 5Hz, so five times faster than most GPS...but don't use it with the cheaper clones as they run at 1Hz. So this is why I say get the official Flight Recorder ;-)
MAVLink parameters don't have defaults and are a little unclear about when they are persisted. For example, I see Flight Radius changes persist after drone reboots, but some people don't.
So be careful not to go changing things at random...one thing at a time and remember what it was in case you need to set it back.
It is also likely to change with Parrot firmware updates.

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by pawelsky » 24 Oct 2013, 09:58

shawnf wrote:The Flight Recorder runs at 5Hz, so five times faster than most GPS...but don't use it with the cheaper clones as they run at 1Hz. So this is why I say get the official Flight Recorder ;-)
This clone runs at 5Hz (and could run ant 10Hz is you want) ;)

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 31 Oct 2013, 15:10

Sorry to report that my planned tethered autonomous ARDrone 2.0 flights beyond and back into WiFi control range using the flight Recorder GPS under control of ARDrone Flight Pro have been delayed. After downloading and installing unofficial (authentic but not yet formally released) firmware version 2.4.7 via Flight Pro's utility, the battery reading in Flight Pro rapidly drops from near full charge to only 23% within 7 seconds of flight and the low battery alarm then sounds at 10 seconds. The drone lands at 17 seconds with an indicated battery level of 9%. Switching the firmware to version 2.4.8 and/or using a different battery makes no difference in this behavior. Both batteries that I have been using are authentic Parrot batteries for the ARDrone 2.0.

Unless my particular drone just happens to have suffered a hardware malfunction, this erroneous battery reading problem must still be an unwanted "feature" of Parrot's ARDrone firmware releases for Android users. I may have to wait for Parrot to officially release an Android version Free.Flight software/firmware combo that correctly supports the Flight Recorder before I can diagnose my erroneous battery level problem as being strictly a hardware issue.

Has anyone else successfully flown an autonomous flight with the Flight Recorder and ARDrone Flight Pro Flight Pro?

Is

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by pawelsky » 31 Oct 2013, 15:35

VAdroneflier wrote: After downloading and installing unofficial (authentic but not yet formally released) firmware version 2.4.7 via Flight Pro's utility, the battery reading in Flight Pro rapidly drops from near full charge to only 23% within 7 seconds of flight and the low battery alarm then sounds at 10 seconds. The drone lands at 17 seconds with an indicated battery level of 9%. Switching the firmware to version 2.4.8 and/or using a different battery makes no difference in this behavior. Both batteries that I have been using are authentic Parrot batteries for the ARDrone 2.0.
That I'm afraid this is a known Parrot issue (also on iOS).
http://forum.parrot.com/ardrone/en/view ... =6543&p=11

Not sure if Flight Pro allows to set the battery type as in FreeFlight (regular vs HD), but if it does you may check if it matches your battery.

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by shawnf » 01 Nov 2013, 09:37

I think it's a combination of hardware and firmware, but I can fly for over 10mins with 2.4.7 and relatively new v2 batteries (about a month old).

There is the HD battery MAVLink parameter, for autonomous flying with HD batteries, at least that's what I guess it's for ;)

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 02 Nov 2013, 13:07

I have just completed an instrumented hover test of my ARDrone2 with the Flight Recorder GPS unit installed in order to uncover the reason(s) for the abnormally short flight times that I observed for ARDrone2 flights conducted with standard Parrot v2 batteries, firmware version 2.4.8, and ARDrone Flight Pro v9.45.

Power was supplied by a Hobby King Turnigy 1300 mAh 3S 11.1v LiPo battery instead of the standard Parrot batteries that had previously yielded a flight time of only 17 seconds.
The controlling device was a Samsung Galaxy S3 running ARDrone Flight Pro v9.45.
The Parrot firmware version was 2.4.8.
An independent voltage monitor/alarm was plugged into the battery's balance/charging port throughout the flight.

The flight was conducted without a hull and in manual (rather than autonomous) control mode, even though the GPS unit was plugged in and blinking the whole time.
The drone was flat trimmed before takeoff, but spin calibration of the magnetometer during hover was not performed.

Pre-flight Battery Status
The battery was fully charged with a Parkzone charger at 1C.
The state of charge of the battery was then measured with the voltage monitor before installing the battery in the drone.
Cell 1: 4.03v
Cell 2: 4.06v
Cell 3: 4.07v
All: 12.1v

Pre-Launch Battery Status
At T: 0m0s the flight video recorded the battery level as being 76.
I did not observe the battery voltage (if any) being displayed on-screen by Flight Pro prior to launch. :oops:


Battery Reading During Hover
After launch to a stable hover at 1 meter altitude, Flight Pro reported battery voltage under load to be 11.772v.
A post-flight review of the flight video revealed that the corresponding battery level telemetered by Flight Pro had dropped to 61
Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to read the corresponding voltage being displayed by the independent voltage monitor at that same time. :oops:
[A hull-less ARDrone hovering indoors with bare whirring rotor blades is rather distracting :o -- especially when one never really knows what it might do after a firmware update. ]

Low Battery Alarm
Flight Pro sounded the low battery alarm at 4m 54s into the flight.
The independent voltage monitor reading at that time was 10.4 volts.
The telemetered battery level was 15.

Automatic Forced Landing
Forced landing occurred at 6m 18s into the flight.
The telemetered battery level was 1.
The landing was not a gentle descent.
Power to the motors was abruptly cutoff.
The drone dropped to the floor, impacting flatly.
No damage was incurred.

Post Landing Battery Status
Immediately after landing, Flight Pro reported a battery voltage of 10.008v with 28% (of energy?) remaining.
With the drone's electronics still under power, the independent voltage monitor readings were
All: 11.2 v
Cell 1: 3.74 v
Cell 2: 3.74 v
Cell 3: 3.75 v

I then let the drone sit with the battery connected, allowing the battery to drain down to a low but safe level in preparation for fully recharging it.
I unplugged the battery when the drone's navigation lights switched from green to red, at which time the independent voltage monitor reported cell voltages of 3.45v.

CONCLUSIONS

(1) The observed 6m 24s flight time with the Turnigy 1300 mAh battery was disappointingly short, but it was infinitely better than the 17s flight achieved with my standard Parrot batteries.

(2) The shorter than expected flight time may be attributable to the extra weight being carried by the drone in this flight test.
The additional weight included
(a) the independent voltage monitor
(b) the additional wiring and connectors needed to convert to a Tamiya plug connection to the drone
(c) two light fishing tackle chains attached in a crisscross fashion to the motor support arms for tethered flight purposes.

(3) Both of my Parrot batteries have probably gone bad. :(

(4) The drone exhibited no unusual behavior while flying with firmware 2.4.8 under control of ARDrone Flight Pro v9.45. :)

(5) It is time to test autonomous GPS-controlled flight to ranges/altitudes that extend beyond the WiFi control zone and then return in accordance with a programmed flight plan!! :geek:

For security and safety purposes, the autonomous flight tests will be conducted in tethered flight.

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by Zack3g » 02 Nov 2013, 20:18

I tried to do a simple autonomous test around the back yard a few days ago. Programmed in a course with a 5m altitude, the drone kept smacking into the ground. I wanted it to do a low flight but for some reason it couldn't figure out that 5m off the ground was above it and not below it.

I upped this to 15m, and it completed the course successfully, but a lot closer to 10m off the ground than 15.

Something's off with the altitude somewhere. Not sure where. Weather's been shit lately, haven't been able to do more testing to try and figure out why the altitude's off.

VAdroneflier
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 02 Nov 2013, 21:06

Zack3g wrote:I tried to do a simple autonomous test around the back yard a few days ago. Programmed in a course with a 5m altitude, the drone kept smacking into the ground. I wanted it to do a low flight but for some reason it couldn't figure out that 5m off the ground was above it and not below it.
You are ahead of me in your autonomous flight adventures, Zack. Mine have been delayed by battery problems.

What TYPE of autonomous flight were you trying? Was it with a Flight Recorder GPS unit installed in the drone? Or was it without the FR GPS and using only the drone's inertial navigation capabilities in conjunction with your Android device's internal GPS?

If the flight was of the former type, then I believe that you need to carefully set a MAVLink parameter that specifies which GPS altitude standard you want to use. A bad choice of GPS altitude standard for your particular geographic location can result in YOUR ground level being considered to be somewhere below the global zero GPS altitude.)

If the flight was of the latter type (drone inertial guidance plus device GPS), then I really wouldn't expect the drone to be confused about its altitude. The drone's altitude would be controlled via the ultrasonic sensor at low levels and by the barometric pressure sensor above ultrasonic range.

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by Zack3g » 03 Nov 2013, 00:15

VAdroneflier wrote:
Zack3g wrote:I tried to do a simple autonomous test around the back yard a few days ago. Programmed in a course with a 5m altitude, the drone kept smacking into the ground. I wanted it to do a low flight but for some reason it couldn't figure out that 5m off the ground was above it and not below it.
You are ahead of me in your autonomous flight adventures, Zack. Mine have been delayed by battery problems.

What TYPE of autonomous flight were you trying? Was it with a Flight Recorder GPS unit installed in the drone? Or was it without the FR GPS and using only the drone's inertial navigation capabilities in conjunction with your Android device's internal GPS?

If the flight was of the former type, then I believe that you need to carefully set a MAVLink parameter that specifies which GPS altitude standard you want to use. A bad choice of GPS altitude standard for your particular geographic location can result in YOUR ground level being considered to be somewhere below the global zero GPS altitude.)

If the flight was of the latter type (drone inertial guidance plus device GPS), then I really wouldn't expect the drone to be confused about its altitude. The drone's altitude would be controlled via the ultrasonic sensor at low levels and by the barometric pressure sensor above ultrasonic range.
I've got the flight recorder, and I saw those different variables. I forget the terminology but one was AMSL, one was relative to takeoff position (that's the one I used, and apparently failed with) and there were a couple others as well.

That's one of the things I want to tinker with and see what the deal is.

VAdroneflier
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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by VAdroneflier » 03 Nov 2013, 00:25

Looking forward to hearing what works for you Zack.

Anybody else out there have any experience flying autonomously with Flight Recorder and ARDronr Flight Pro?

How about you, JJK?

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Re: Autonomous Flight With Flight Recorder GPS

Post by shawnf » 03 Nov 2013, 09:09

The battery results are interesting. Perhaps Parrot should be reading it :)
It sounds like your V2 batteries are behaving like my old V1 batteries.
My guess is that they don't check with any batteries that have been well used (some of my V1 batteries have started to bulge which is a bad sign...) and that they could be more tolerant of older batteries, but perhaps they don't care because the marketing message is "buy new ones". Marketing after all care so much about their customers and always tell the truth ;)

There is a big thread by JJK in the G+ beta forum.
Sometimes we don't see eye-to-eye, as he thinks it's my bug and I say no Parrot ;)
But he is definitely the MAVLink expert...

As far as height goes. I tend to not bother to change it, flying in flat areas, but JJK has found that if you want the drone to stick to a height, then you have to use "Global - MSL altitude", which is what I now default to in the latest release.
This is wrong, as Parrot should use "Global - relative altitude" as I would be flying 50m underground if MSL altitude was used by the drone... of course Parrot probably won't fix it, but if they do, then you can switch back to relative.
Of course for MAVLink Autonomous flight I am only talking about the new Plan based view, not the old Auto button with active video. The old Auto button Autonomous mode is just my code running on your device, so can only be used to fly in wifi range, and I don't change the height, so it's up to you to activate it at the height you want to fly.

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