Nifty MIT Software Lets You Design and Test Your Very Own Drone
If you’re a drone pilot who doesn’t wear an Air Force uniform, chances are your aircraft looks something like a square with four rotors, a battery, and maybe a camera. The classic quadcopter, after all, works just fine. Why mess with it?
Well, maybe because you want a drone with five rotors. Or you want to mount the camera on top of the drone, not below. Or you want a drone shaped like a rabbit because you quite like rabbits and why the heck not? Perhaps you simply can’t help tinkering with things because you believe you can make them faster, better, or cooler. Satisfying these urges has always required having more than a little knowledge of computer science, control systems, fabrication, robotics, and, of course, aeronautics.
Now, anyone who knows which end of a screwdriver to hold can design a drone and test it virtually using software developed at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and test it virtually. “It can help you explore and try different shapes and different controllers,” says Tao Du, who led the nine-month project.
The tool lets users mix and match parts from a database, creating a drone with as many rotors, of any size, just about wherever they like. The program tells you whether it will fly, and how to optimize it to suit your desired payload, battery life, and even cost. Du hopes to release the software code by June so everyone can join the fun.