Are you interested in learning how to program drones? Here is the blog related to drone programming for beginners, this step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know. Read more here.
Drones are lovable products for hobbyists and professionals in different domains. With the rising popularity of these gadgets across different sectors, drone technology has also advanced.
Off late, drone programming has gained immense importance in fields like robotics.
Drone programming is today a very useful topic in education, hobby, and career and hence more people are taking active interest in learning how to program drones. Even beginners will find drone programming an easy thing to learn and do.
If you are keen to learn drone programming and wondering where to get started, I have made this short guide for you on drone programming.
I bet you will find it very easy to follow. In this write-up, you will learn the basics of drone programming, different drone programming languages and some practical tips on programming drones.
Drone programming for beginners
Drone Programming basics
Drone programming is never a big deal. It is in fact easier than you might imagine. A few simple instructions on drone programming should be enough to get you started with this interesting task. With some amount of learning, you will be able to create your own program for your drone.
If you are familiar with drone programming basics, you will find it very easy to learn how to program a drone yourself. Even if you are an absolute beginner, you can get started with drone programming right here and now.
To get started with drone programming, you must first know how to use the drone programming languages rightly. You must also decide whether you want to try low-level or high-level programming.
When you make a beginning, start programming a programmable drone to access its programming. Eventually, you can build your own drone program app on a programming language.
Do you know how to program drones?
If you are working with robotics as a hobby or as part of your career, knowing how to program can be very useful to you. You must first understand that drones are only one of the several applications of programming. Through drone programming, you can tell your drone what to do in an efficient and simple way.
Drones already come with basic programming that lets you control them with the help of a remote controller or an app. However, you can program them further to find new ways of controlling them and using them uniquely to do the tasks you want them to do in a particular fashion.
Starters in drone programming must know that not all drones can be programmed. The end users can program only a few specific models of drones. Usually, most programmable drones are sold exclusively for educational purposes.
These drones are meant for beginners to practice drone programming. If you want to try drone programming from scratch, you can also buy a DIY drone kit. These kits are an ideal option to those that want to program their own drones or develop their own app.
About Drone Programming Languages
In the first place, you must know which programming language lets you create the program that drones can follow. This topic is very important because the programming language you use will be the medium to communicate with the drone.
To tell it shortly, the success of your mission depends on the programming language you will use. To broaden your understanding about drone programming languages, you need to learn how to differentiate between low-level and high-level programming from each other.
- Low-level programming
In low-level drone programming, the focus is on the firmware that operate the drones. Firmware is what is communicating and coordinating with the device’s hardware including the motor and the propellers in a way letting them use the drone’s basic functions.
The firmware enables the drone use all of the different components connected to it.
The drone’s firmware is actually responsible to command the drone on how much power the device must deliver to the motors and the propellers based on the controlling instructions and by measuring the drone’s inertia.
In the middle of a flight, the drone can stabilize itself as the firmware can communicate with the machine’s motors and propellers.
For low-level drone programming, you must learn C and C++ programming languages. Since these are the programming languages that students learn first, most programmers familiar with the basic programming would have already known how to use them.
Though C and C++ are basic programming languages, learning them can be a cumbersome task due to the fact that they can get complicated in due course.
If you have already known the basics of programming with the help of C and C++, you will find it very easy to work on these platforms to program your drone’s hardware and firmware.
- High-level programming
Low-level drone programming is concerned with the firmware and hardware, while high-level programming works with the different applications of the drone.
In other words, while using a high-level programming language, you are already dealing with your drone as a complete device and you will only have to work with the app that will let you command and control the drone.
High-level programming language lets you develop different functions that will let the drone do a lot of different things like flying to a particular altitude or instructing them on how to make use of a piece of information so that they can automatically fly to a given location guided by GPS.
High-level programming actually works with the firmware too in a way teaching the drone how to interpret the responses it is expected to perform.
For instance, if you want to command your drone to fly at a controlled altitude, the app will communicate the same to the firmware, which will in turn communicate with the device’s hardware.
One another example we can cite in this connection is to direct the drone read the GPS so that it can move in the right direction following your commands issued through the app.
The objective of high-level programming is to find a way to communicate with the firmware. Once the high-level programming has given the instructions, the low-level programming follows them up to guide the working of the motors and different hardware components.
When compared to low-level programming, high-level programming is easier to understand and work with. A number of people are able to use high-level programming on their own due to their user-friendliness.
It is here that a programming language such as Python comes to use on account of its easiness to learn. Though Java is also used to do high-level drone programming, Python is a highly sought after choice for beginners and basic programmers.
Getting Started With Drone Programming
Apart from knowing and learning the basic programming languages used for low-level and high-level drone programming, aspiring drone programmers must lay their hands on drone programming to get themselves a programmable drone.
You can buy some programmable drones from some reliable online and offline sources. These programmable drones feature a software development kit (SDK) or an application programming interface (API) as part of their package.
Most programmable drones come with their own inbuilt firmware in the sense that they are already equipped with the low-level programming needed to control their hardware.
Therefore, you can only use high-level programming with these drones to program them or develop an app that will let you control them in a sophisticated way to perform some unique functions based on your custom requirements.
My advice here is to find a programmable drone that can be programmed with languages such as Python. Alternatively, you can look for an SDK that comes with a programmable drone.
The SDK helps you create your own app for your drone even without using a programmable language. To land on this convenience, you must find an SDK that features the basic requirements you will need to develop your own app.
When it comes to developing your own drone controlling app, it is essential that you have a good knowledge of high-level programming.
This is one of the best drone kits you can buy today. You can actually download this SDK on your Android mobile device. Once you are familiar with high-level programming, DroneKit can be highly useful to develop your own Android-based drone controlling app.
The best part you will appreciate is that DroneKit SDKs are open-source platforms completely free to use for any purpose you might have.
One of the best things about DroneKit is that it features all the different basic functions you will need to control your drone including several autonomous features and intelligent flight path planners.
Because this is an open-source platform, you are free to use different codes that other drone programmers have already used on their own drones. However, one downside to using DroneKit is the absence of any customer support to come to your rescue during a crucial hour of your mission.
What you must know about DJI SDKs and APIs
If you want to try drone programming on a DJI drone, you will find the brand’s SDKs and APIs highly useful to develop your own Android apps and iOS apps exclusively meant for DJI drones like the Mavic.
The DJI SDKs are great options due to their robust features and several automated functions like obstacle evasion and live video feed. The several interesting and useful features of these SDKs can help extend the camera capabilities of drones like DJI Mavic.
One downside to these programs we must mention here is that DJI SDKs and APIs come for a price and are not free to use.
If you are very particular about using a DJI drone, it is necessary that you make use of an SDK or API only. In this way, you will find it a breeze to create a program to control your DJI drone duly enabled by the rich features of DJI’s SDKs.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.