Drone Flight Training and Simulation System

Drone Flight Training and Simulation System – This application helps pilots, both new and experienced, to improve their drone-flying skills.  It was originally developed to ensure that students in the Optimator Lab at the University at Buffalo were proficient in operating a drone before flying our hardware outside.  However, we have added numerous features that make the system attractive to a larger audience.

Key Features

  • The flight trainer tasks the user to successfully execute basic commands, like takeoff, loiter, visit waypoints, and land.
  • Different camera angles can be used to replicate flying while standing on the ground (like we do in the field), viewing the scene from above (to get better situational awareness), or looking out the cockpit (for a first-person-view experience). Aside from helping the pilot better learn to fly, we also use this system to test new strategies for tele-operation of UAVs.
  • The system supports virtual reality (VR) goggles, for an even more realistic training experience.
  • The game mode challenges the user to compete against multiple computer-controlled drone opponents. This video game helps the pilot learn, but also provides students in our lab with the testbed for developing and improving algorithms for automated control of UAVs.
  • The free flight mode lets the user fly around interesting areas, like the Grand Canyon or NYC.
  • A swarm mode is also available, allowing one pilot to control multiple drones simultaneously.  The Optimator Lab is working to develop new algorithms for drone swarms; the simulation environment lets us test and evaluate these algorithms.
  • The system also serves as a testbed for evaluating new control algorithms and improving human/robot teaming.

Tasks in Process

  • Incorporate hints and real-time feedback to help the user in the flight trainer.
  • Release a networked version of the system, allowing the user to compete against friends in real-time.
  • Improved swarm algorithms.
  • Incorporate weather effects, such as wind.
  • Add new game modes, including target search and destroy.
  • Implement voice-activated controls.

Please contact Chase Murray with feature requests, or to become a system tester. We’re particularly interested in new opportunities to deploy this application.