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Autonomous (SITL) Flight Simulation Tutorial

Updated: Jun 28

In this tutorial, you will learn how to carry out Software-In-The-Loop (SITL) drone simulation within SIMNET in order to simulate aircraft that utilize either the ArduPilot, or PX4 flight control softwares.


For SITL simulation, it is recommended that you use a 3rd party Ground Control Station software, such as Mission Planner, or QGround Control. Download and install these on your device of choice. Note that these can run on any internet-connected device, and don't need to be installed on the same computer where SIMNET is running.

If you wish to carry out fully autonomous flights, you will not need a controller. However, if you want to combine autonomous and manual flight, you will need to configure your controller with SIMNET in order to fly your aircraft manually. Please see our Controller Setup Tutorial for more information.

General Usage

  1. Load Your Aircraft: Click on 'Aircraft->Load...' in the toolbar, and load an aircraft that is set up for SITL simulation. In SIMNET, any aircraft that says 'ArduPilot' or 'PX4' in its name (for example, the 'T55 Quadcopter ArduPilot') is set up for SITL simulation.

  2. Load Your Flight Location: Click on 'Location->Load...' and select your flight location of choice. If you want to create a custom flight location, please follow our Custom Flight Locations Tutorial.

  3. Select Your Layout: You may wish to use only one simulation view or combine multiple at a time. For example, when flying an aircraft with a camera, you may choose to have the pilot's point of view on the left, and the camera point of view on the right. To open a new simulation pane, click on 'New Pane->Simulation' on the toolbar, then you can drag the pane to the desired location by dragging the 'Simulation' label on top of the toolbar. Use the 'View' button to select the desired view on each simulation pane. Alternatively, you may load a preset layout using the 'Layouts' button on the toolbar, such as the 'Simulate (Pilot and Camera Views)' layout.

  4. Connect Ground Control Station: Open your Ground Control Station (GCS) software, and connect it to SIMNET by creating a new TCP connection, using the IP and Port provided in SIMNET under the 'Ground Control Station' toolbar button. Once the GCS is connected to SIMNET, you may use it the same way you would with the real vehicle. For example, you can use it to set aircraft flight modes, arm/disarm the aircraft, plan and upload autonomous missions to the vehicle, monitor mission progress, and edit flight controller configurations.

  5. Start Simulating: To begin flying a SITL aircraft, you must first set it to the desired flight mode, and arm it. If using a GCS software, this can be done through the software itself (see tutorial videos below for more guidance). If using ArduPilot, you can also set the flight mode and arm the aircraft through SIMNET's simulation interface, as shown below.

Tutorial Videos

Below are some videos demonstrating how to use popular Ground Control Station software with SIMNET for Software In The Loop simulation.

SITL Simulation Using Mission Planner

SITL Simulation Using Desktop Version of QGroundControl

SITL Simulation Using Mobile Version of QGroundControl

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