Introducing Copter

Copter is an advanced open-source autopilot system for multicopters, helicopters, and other rotor vehicles.

Overview

Copter is complete open-source autopilot solution for multi-rotor vehicles, offering both enhanced remote control flight (via a number of intelligent flight modes) and execution of fully autonomous missions.

As part of the DroneCode Software Platform it works seamlessly with Ground Control Station software that can monitor vehicle telemetry and perform powerful mission planning activities. It also benefits from other parts of the DroneCode platform, including simulators, log analysis tools, and higher level APIs for vehicle management and control.

Copter is on the cutting edge of aerial robotics and intended for those people who want to try advanced technology, leading edge techniques and new flight styles. It is already a preferred platform for numerous commercially available ready-to-fly vehicles, and can easily be added to enhance your own DIY multirotor craft.

copter-introduction-diagram

Key features

Key features include:

  • High quality auto-level and auto-altitude control: Fly level and straight or use the awesome “simple flight” mode, which makes Copter one of the easiest multicopters to fly.
    Don’t worry about keeping an eye on your multicopter’s orientation – just push the stick the way you want to go, and the autopilot figures out what that means for whatever orientation the copter is in, using its onboard compass. “Front”, “back” … who cares!
  • Automatic takeoff and landing: Flick a switch and watch Copter execute its mission completely autonomously, returning home and landing by itself when it’s done.
  • “Loiter” mode.: Copter will hold its position using its GPS and altitude sensors.
  • Return to launch: Flip a switch to have Copter fly back to the launch location automatically.
  • Fail safety: Automatically detect when the vehicle loses transmitter contact (or is outside a defined geofence) and return to the launch point. Will also attempt to land safely if hardware failures are detected.
  • No programming required: Use the desktop Mission Planner software to load the autopilot (with just one click) and set up Copter. The Mission Planner (and other compatible ground stations) deliver visual displays for vehicle state, settings and telemetry, including a point-and-click mission planning interface.
  • Missions with hundreds of GPS waypoints: Just point and click waypoints in a Mission Planner, and Copter will fly itself to them. You cautomate entire missions, including camera control! The only distance limits are those of your vehicle power supply.
  • Mission planning while in flight: Using a two-way wireless connection, waypoints, mode changing, even changing the gains of every control parameter can be done from your laptop or mobile device – even while Copter is in the air!

Getting started

If you’re using Copter on a ready-to-fly vehicle then it is likely that it will be already setup, configured and tuned, ready for your first flight. We recommend you read your manufacturer’s instructions, particularly those related to safely, before flying.

Once you’re familiar with your vehicle’s default setup you may want to configure your RC transmitter/vehicle to use more challenging flight modes, or choose a ground station and start flying automated missions.

Tip:
Whether using an RTF or DIY vehicle, autonomous vehicles are potentially dangerous! Always follow best safety practices and pay close attention to all safety warnings.

If you’re working on a DIY project, this wiki has everything you need! You should start by reading this section in order to understand what a multicopter can do, and how to select a frame, flight controller board, and other essential components. You can then proceed to First Time Setup to learn how to assemble your Copter and then First Flight to learn how to configure and tune it.

The development team

Copter is developed and maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers from the open source community. Follow their continuing efforts and read about new project developments at DIYDrones.com.

All of us involved with this project care a great deal about the privacy and safety of those whom we share this planet with. Please be a good steward of this technology. It is the product of many evenings and weekends, we make it available for benevolent use. 

Learn more about Copter

To find out more about Copter and your main configuration decisions, please see the topics below:


Questions, issues, and suggestions about this page can be raised on the APM Forum. Issues and suggestions may be posted on the forums or the Github Issue Tracker.