Drones: Reaching New Heights in Education

Are you looking to make your classes more relevant and engaging? Drones have increased functionality and have decreased in size, making it easier to bring into classrooms. They do not cost a lot and have significant benefits, making teaching and learning so much more fun and enriching. It is a modern dynamic educational model that provides hands-on experience as you move from simulation to real-world flight dynamics, enabling students to gain a deeper understanding of key concepts. Explore how you can use a single software environment to model, simulate, generate code, and deploy to hardware and run in real-time using the examples that follow. If you don’t feel challenged enough, see below for the MathWorks Minidrone competition.

If you are not familiar with Simulink, you can complete the Simulink Onramp to get you started. Once you are comfortable with the environment and know enough theory about drones, you can begin simulating and testing a virtual quadcopter using the Quadcopter Project demo. This example shows you how to make use of best practices for this application, how to run a simulation of the drone, ways to visualise results, how to modify the model to customise flight simulation inputs, and an overview of the flight controller. The simulation model is at the centre of Model- Based Design and helps to test designs in simulation before we ever try them on a real piece of hardware.














Once you are happy with simulations, explore endless fun by getting your own drone and programming it to perform real-time experiments by downloading the Simulink Support Package for Parrot Minidrones. The support package is an official MathWorks hardware support add-on based on Simulink that lets you design, simulate, and deploy flight control algorithms to PARROT mini-drones wirelessly over Bluetooth. The algorithms can access onboard sensors—such as the ultrasonic, accelerometer, gyroscope, and air pressure sensors—as well as the downward facing camera.








If your students are passionate about this technology and direction, MathWorks will be launching a competition (MathWorks Minidrone Competition at IFAC 2020), which will be open to teams from all over the world. You can keep a lookout for the competition here: MathWorks Minidrone Competitions.

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