Drones are becoming increasingly popular among hobbyists and enthusiasts worldwide. Because drones are becoming increasingly popular and the technology continues to progress, knowing how to program them has become increasingly crucial in the field of robotics. Drone programming is a fantastic instructional tool that may also be pursued as a career. So, where do you begin when it comes to drone programming?
Knowing how to use the appropriate programming languages, which could be low-level or high-level programming, is the initial step in drone programming. Then, using a programmable drone to access its programming and create your own app using a programming language, you may start programming.
Drone programming may appear to be complex and complicated, but it is actually much simpler than you might expect. With just a few simple instructions to get you started, you’ll be well on your way to building your own drone software. Of course, learning how to program drones will be easier for those who already know the basics of programming, but even utter novices must start somewhere, right?
Do you know how to program drones?
Knowing how to program has become increasingly important in today’s digital world, particularly in robotics and other related industries. Drones are just one of the many applications of programming in this direction. Knowing how to program drones so that you can tell them what to perform in a straightforward and effective manner may be a lot of fun.
Is it, on the other hand, truly conceivable for you to program drones? After all, drones come pre-programmed with basic programming that allows you to control them using the remote control or the drone’s app. But is it possible to program drones in such a manner that you can have a more distinctive way of directing and commanding them?
Drones can, in fact, be programmed. Indeed, if you’ve seen it live or on TV, there have been a variety of drone light shows that have enthralled audiences all around the world. A total of 3,051 drones in Shenzhen, China, established the record for the largest drone light show ever in September of 2020.
It’s difficult to envision 3,051 people in charge of all those drones. And that’s where drone programming comes in: programming all of those drones to move in unison and synchronize their every movement so you can put on such a fantastic performance without having to have one person controlling each drone individually.
Nonetheless, we’re not here to set any records; rather, we’re here to learn more about drone programming and how you can get started programming your own. To begin, you should be aware that not all drones are programmable; in fact, only a few models are capable of being programmed by the end-user.
The majority of programmable drones are sold for educational purposes, so that young people or those who wish to learn how to program drones can actually use them to practice programming. However, there are DIY drone kits available that allow you to build a programmable drone from the ground up. These DIY drone kits are suitable for individuals who want to create their own drone app or program.
Drones use what programming language?
For starters, if you want to learn how to program drones, you must first ensure that you are familiar with the programming language used by drones. After all, everything begins with the programming language, which is what you’ll use to communicate with the drone so that you can instruct it on what to perform depending on your own custom program.
So, in order for you to comprehend the various programming languages, we must first distinguish between low-level and high-level programming in terms of how they are utilized on drones.
When it comes to low-level programming, the focus is on the drone’s firmware. This firmware connects or coordinates with the drone’s hardware, such as the propellers and motor, in order for it to perform its essential operations. In a nutshell, the firmware enables the drone to use all of its many components.
So, depending on how it is controlled or how it analyzes the drone’s inertial measurement unit, the drone’s firmware is responsible for determining how much power it should supply to the motors and propellers. As a result of the firmware communicating with the drone’s motors and propellers while in flight, the drone is able to stabilize itself.
When it comes to low-level programming, C and C++ are two programming languages that you should learn. Because C and C++ are the programming languages that most students learn first, most programmers who have a decent understanding of basic programming should already know how to utilize them.
Despite the fact that C and C++ are regarded as fundamental, learning them is difficult due to their complexity. However, if you’ve gotten the hang of it and are familiar with the ins and outs of these programming languages, you’ll find it much easier to utilize them while learning how to program your drone’s hardware and firmware.
While low-level programming is concerned with the drone’s firmware and hardware, high-level programming is concerned with the drone’s applications. In other words, you’re already considering the drone to be fully functional, and all you need now is an app that allows you to command the drone.
So, the various features that will allow you to program the drone to do a variety of tasks, such as flying to a specific height or knowing how to use information so that it can automatically fly to a specific area via GPS, may be programmed using high-level programming.
What happens here is that high-level programming collaborates with firmware so that the drone can understand the reaction it should give. If you want the drone to fly at a specific altitude on demand, for example, the app will connect with the firmware, which will then communicate with the drone’s hardware.
Another scenario is when you want the drone to read GPS so that it can move in the correct direction based on the commands you gave it through an app. In that case, the purpose of high-level programming is to figure out how to interface with the firmware. Meanwhile, after high-level programming has given the instructions, low-level programming manages how the motors and various components work.
Because high-level programming is easier to grasp than low-level programming, it is more user-friendly and accessible to a wider audience. This is where a programming language like Python comes in handy, as it is one of the easiest to learn. Although Java is a viable option, Python is just easier to use and comprehend for novice programmers.
How Do I Get Started Programming Drones?
So, in addition to learning the basic programming languages that are commonly used for both low-level and high-level drone programming, you’ll need a programmable drone to get started.
There are some programmable drones available for purchase. A software development kit (SDK) or application programming interface (API) is already included in the packages of these drones. The majority of programmable drones already have their own firmware, which means they already contain the low-level programming needed to manage their hardware.
So, with these programmable drones, you can now design and develop an application that will allow you to control it to execute particular functions using high-level programming. As a result, you must purchase a drone that supports your preferred programming language, such as Python or the SDK that comes with the programmable drone.
You can construct your own mobile drone app using the SDK even if you don’t know how to program, as long as the SDK includes all of the essential tools you’ll need to get started. When it comes to creating your own app, your understanding of high-level programming will be crucial. This app will be in charge of piloting the drone.
DroneKit, which is an SDK that you can quickly download using your Android mobile device, is an excellent programmable drone kit that you can buy. As long as you have a basic understanding of high-level programming, you can utilize this SDK to construct your own Android control application. The best aspect is that the SDKs for DroneKit are completely free and open-source.
The beautiful thing about DroneKit is that it includes all of the essential functions you’ll need for controlling your drone. This incorporates intelligent flight path planning as well as other self-driving capabilities. You may basically use the different programs that other programmers have used for their own drones because it is open-source. However, when it comes to DroneKit, the issue is that there is no customer support.
SDKs and APIs from DJI
However, if you’re utilizing DJI drones, which are among the most popular on the market today, you can leverage DJI’s SDKs and APIs to create your own iOS and Android apps that are tailored to DJI drones like the Mavic. The DJI SDKs are actually rather impressive in terms of the features they provide, as they include many automatic functions like obstacle evasion and even live video feed, allowing you to fully utilize the Mavic’s incredible camera capabilities.
The issue is that DJI SDKs and APIs are not available for free. However, if you insist on using a DJI drone, you should be able to obtain an SDK or API by contacting DJI directly. Because DJI’s SDKs are so feature-rich, this should be an excellent approach for you to learn how to program your own DJI drone.