Flying Multiple Drones from One Remote Controller
In this paper, we present our methodology of modifying the firmware for the Pixhawk flight controller in order to enable the safe flight of multiple UAVs with 1 remote controller. In order to accomplish this, we focus on implementing a low level behavior of distance maintenance, because as similarly described in Braitenburg's novel Vehicles, this would set the stage for higher level and more elegant multi-copter behaviors to be added in the future. The implementation of this distance maintenance behavior involves two simple principles listed below. If the copters are too far from each other, they must autonomously move closer. If the copters are too close to each other, they must autonomously move farther from one another. Copters send each other GPS coordinates in order to be aware of the positioning of surrounding copters and maintain a particular distance. Having this behavior allows one pilot to control multiple copters in real time while using just 1 remote controller. This research has many applications, some of which include agriculture as well as search and rescue missions. We take an important first step towards the useful control of multiple drones from 1 remote, but there is still more work to be done as future work should focus on adding in more complex behaviors on top of the low level distance maintenance behavior.