Using Programmable Drone in Educational Projects and Competitions

27 Feb 2024  ·  Pavel Petrovič, Peter Verčimák ·

The mainstream of educational robotics platforms orbits the various versions of versatile robotics sets and kits, while interesting outliers add new opportunities and extend the possible learning situations. Examples of such are reconfigurable robots, rolling sphere robots, humanoids, swimming, or underwater robots. Another kind within this category are flying drones. While remotely controlled drones were a very attractive target for hobby model makers for quite a long time already, they were seldom used in educational scenarios as robots that are programmed by children to perform various simple tasks. A milestone was reached with the introduction of the educational drone Tello, which can be programmed even in Scratch, or some general-purpose languages such as Node.js or Python. The programs can even have access to the robot sensors that are used by the underlying layers of the controller. In addition, they have the option to acquire images from the drone camera and perform actions based on processing the frames applying computer vision algorithms. We have been using this drone in an educational robotics competition for three years without camera, and after our students have developed several successful projects that utilized a camera, we prepared a new competition challenge that requires the use of the camera. In the article, we summarize related efforts and our experiences with educational drones, and their use in the student projects and competition.

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