Introduction: Color Following AR Parrot Drone

Picture of Color Following AR Parrot Drone
Hi! Do you have an AR Parrot Drone? Fun, aren't they? How would you like your drone to follow your red shirt, or unique glyph photo. Or maybe remote control your drone with a joystick, wii remote or voice recognition. Even better, how cool would it be to have your drone remote controlled from another location over the internet? Yeah, thought so!

All of those scenarios are possible, but in this tutorial i'm going to cover the Color following ability.


Below is a video that covers the next few steps.

Step 1: Download EZ-Builder

The software we will use to control the AR Drone is EZ-Builder.

To download and install EZ-Builder:
  1. Visit http://www.ez-robot.com/EZ-Builder
  2. Scroll to the Download section
  3. Select Download from the EZ-Builder Robot Control Software
  4. Follow through with the installation procedure

Step 2: Connect Over WiFi

Picture of Connect Over WiFi
You will require a WiFi connection to the AR Parrot Drone from your computer.
  1. Power the AR Drone by connecting the battery
  2. Wait until the lights signal the device is ready
  3. On your WiFi enabled PC, connect to the Drone by selecting the wireless network. In the included photo, the wireless network of my drone is called EZ-Robot

Step 3: Configure EZ-Builder

Picture of Configure EZ-Builder
Now it's time to load EZ-Builder and create a project to control your AR Parrot Drone.
  1. Locate EZ-Builder from the Start Menu
  2. Select and run EZ-Builder

Now let's add the Movement Panel for the AR Drone
  1. Select Add Control from the top menu
  2. Locate AR Drone from the list of categories
  3. Select Movement Panel from the sub menu

It's camera time! Let's add a Control to see the camera visual of the AR Drone
  1. Select Add Control from the top menu
  2. Select Camera from the list of categories
  3. Select Camera Device from the sub menu

Step 4: EZ-Builder Calling AR Drone

Hello AR Drone, can you hear me?

Let's connect the EZ-Builder to the Drone so we can now control it and see the image...
  1. Ensure you are still connected to the AR Drone via WiFi.
  2. On the AR Drone Movement Panel, press the Connect button.
  3. Once the button has been renamed to Disconnect, press the Camera On button.
  4. In the Camera control, select AR_Drone from the Video Device drop down

Now you should see the video image from the AR Drone's camera! Sweeeeeeeeet.

Step 5: Learn the Controls

Before we get the AR Drone chasing your colored object, let's first make sure you can fly the Drone with the computer's keyboard. The EZ-Builder software will use the flight data from the Drone to aid in stabilization... The software can only help so much! Make sure you're in a Flight Friendly zone :)

To take off..
  1. Press the Flat Trim button once the AR Drone is on a flat surface.
  2. Press Take-Off to have the drone begin flying
  3. Move your cursor into the black box beneith the control windows and click.
  4. Now that you have focus moved into the black box, you have control with the arrow keys of your computer's keyboard.

Forward will cause your Drone to fly forward. Left and Right will turn left or right, respectively. The Q and W keys will strafe left and right.

Landing...
  1. Press the Land button to land the Drone.

Step 6: Configure Color Tracking

Picture of Configure Color Tracking
Once you are familiar with flying the Drone with the keyboard, now let's enable color tracking!
  1. Connect to the EZ-B Robot Controller
  2. Press Config in the Camera control
  3. Select Movement Tracking checkbox
  4. De-select Allow Forward Movement checkbox
  5. Select Allow Left/Right Movement checkbox
  6. Press Save
We de-selected the forward movement checkbox so your Drone does not chase colored objects in the forward direction. If you are confident with the environment settings, you can re-enable this option... Just remember, the drone will chase the color like a bull!

Back in the main Camera Control, we now have to enable Color tracking.
  1. Select Color from the tracking type checkbox list
  2. Select the Color settings tab
  3. Tune the Color Brightness value until only the colored object is detected

Now you may press the Take-Off button from the AR Drone control and your drone will automatically turn to follow the specified color.

Some important notes:
  • Operate the drone in a flight safe area!
  • Cover or hide any colored objects in the area that match the tracking color
  • Bright environments are important for proper detection. Fine tune the Color Brightness for your lighting condition
  • To detect the colored object from a greater distance, tune the Min Object Size value

You may now play around with other Controls found in EZ-Builder to control your AR Drone...
  • Speech Recognition
  • HTTP Server
  • Wii Remote
  • Joystick
  • Custom Scripting

Consider mounting the EZ-B Controller on the shell of your AR Parrot Drone for fully autonomous exploration! Attach HC-SR04 distance sensors to the front, rear and sides of the indoor Drone shell. Now your Drone can self navigate down hallways and avoid obsticles!

Comments

rmereboer (author)2016-07-08

Is it possible to do it with the rolling spider drone?

robotmaker (author)2016-06-23

Great job DJ I have the AR parrot drone and looking forward to build it

power882 (author)2015-05-12

Wonderful Work!! When i try to make this color tracking with my ARDrone 2.0, it was all good until i turned on the camera feed. I could control the drone with EZbuilder on PC but couldn't get the camera feed on my screen. kept gives me errors. Wonder if i was doing it right, i do have this yellow exclamation mark on when PC connected to drone's wifi signal, but it seems not interfere movement control, only thing is no camera feed coming in. Wonder which step i did wrong, Thanks a lot!

terence.henriod (author)2015-04-02

I was wondering if DJ could point me at a tutorial or resource that could help me add my own custom functionality to the AR Drone using his great EZ-Builder software. Also, I think there may be a bug with the video capture. I was able to push a button to start recording, but then the stop button doesn't work and no video file is saved. I am using AR.Drone 2.0. Anyways, thanks for the great software!

kyle.clinton.94 (author)2015-03-28

So thisseemed really simple and for the most part got it working. Not sure if it is just me but i have been trying to get EZ Builder to recognize the downward facing camera. I would really like to have it fly over the top of an object a certain color and be able to follow it. EZ Builder crashes when i hit sel camera button which i would guess is the way to select other camera... Any ideas or similar experiences?

skynetbbs (author)2015-01-03

did you connect it to the power of the ardrone somehow?

patbking (author)2014-10-06

This is the coolest application ever

ecogeeco (author)2013-05-03

I picked up an AR drone. It is the 1.0 because i saw the EZ robot software would run it. This software running the Drone is one of the most awesome things i have ever done with my laptop! I loved it so much i bought another AR Drone 1.0 and my best friend ordered 1 too after seeing it fly with the software. This software ROCKS! I set the drones to follow the color green the day all 3 of my children wore green shirts. Lets just say it was an interesting day at my house. Thank you for the software.
PS i can't wait for my EZ Robot kit to get here. It shipped today! :) yes i am a fan now.

jsidhu0123 (author)2013-04-22

Video doesnt works for Ardrone 2 :(

jsidhu0123 (author)2013-04-22

Does this works for Ardrone 2 as well?

SteveJobs 2.0 (author)2013-04-02

I like your project.

SteveJobs 2.0 (author)2013-04-02

You should look up the jogobot

SteveJobs 2.0 (author)2013-04-02

Quick question is there a away to do this on any (RC,robotics,ect.) project without the wifi.

JONATHAN.CHEN (author)2013-04-02

that's valuable to me ~~

The nerdling (author)2012-10-14

ive been wanting to get one, and control it using my computer nit my tiny iphone screen, so going to use this way. that's IF i do get it

oldmechanic (author)2012-07-10

Cool. You love controlling things using different ones, don't you?

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Bio: I build robots to encourage others to do the same. I believe the future is in robotics and playing a part for the future is ... More »
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