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Master autonomous flight software engineering


Master autonomous flight software engineering skills as you build your career in flying cars and drone robotics.

Educational Objectives

In this program, you’ll learn the core concepts required to design and develop robots that fly.

Working with the quadrotor test platform and our custom flight simulator, you will implement planning, control, and estimation solutions in Python and C++.




In this course, you will get an introduction to flight history, challenges, and vehicles.

You will learn about our quadrotor test platform, work in our custom simulator, and build your first project—getting a quadrotor to take-off and fly around a backyard!

  • Lesson 1: Welcome 
  • Lesson 2: Autonomous Flight 
  • Lesson 3: Project: Backyard Flyer 
  • Lesson 4: Drone Integration

Project 1: Backyard Flyer

In this project, you will write event-driven code in Python to get your drone to takeoff, fly a predetermined path, and land in a simulated backyard environment.


Course 2

3D Motion Planning

Flying robots must traverse complex, dynamic environments.

Wind, obstacles, unreliable sensor data, and other randomness all present significant challenges.

In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of aerial path planning.

You will begin with 2D problems, optimize your solutions using waypoints, and then scale your solutions to three dimensions.

You will apply these skills in your second project—autonomously navigating your drone through a dense urban environment.

  • Lesson 1: Planning as Search 
  • Lesson 2: Flying Car Representation
  • Lesson 3: From Grids to Graphs ​
  • Lesson 4: Moving into 3D 
  • Lesson 5: Real World Planning
  • Lesson 6: Project: 3D Motion Planning
Project 2: 3D Motion Planning

In this project, you will move beyond the backyard test grounds and fly a drone around a complex urban simulated environment.

To do so, you will load a map of a real city, plan a collision-free path between buildings, and watch your drone fly above city streets.


Course 3


In the previous course, we implemented 3D path planning but assumed a solution for actually following paths.

In reality, moving a flying vehicle requires determining appropriate low-level motor controls.​

In this course, you will build a nonlinear cascaded controller and incorporate it into your software in the project.

  • Lesson 1: Vehicle Dynamics 
  • Lesson 2: Introduction to Vehicle Control
  • Lesson 3: Control Architecture
  • Lesson 4: Full 3D Control
  • Lesson 5: Project: Building a Controller
Project 3: Building a Controller

In this project, you will no longer assume vehicle actuation but rather implement your very own cascaded controller in C++.

You will attempt different motions (slow, fast, slalom, etc.) and analyze performance under different conditions.


Course 4


In this course, we will finish peeling back the layers of your autonomous flight solution. Instead of assuming perfect sensor readings, you will utilize sensor fusion and filtering.

You will design an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) to estimate attitude and position from IMU and GPS data of a flying robot.

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Estimation 
  • Lesson 2: Introduction to Sensors
  • Lesson 3: Extended Kalman Filters
  • Lesson 4: The 3D EKF and UKF
  • Lesson 5: Project: Estimation
  • Lesson 6: GPS Denied Navigation
Project 4: Estimation 

In this project, you will implement an EKF to estimate attitude and position from IMU and GPS data of a flying robot.

After doing so, you will have implemented the full-stack for a single aerial robot!


Course 5 [Optional]

Fixed Wing Aircraft

While quadrotors are the ideal test platform for aerial robotics, flying cars and other long-range aircrafts leverage the aerodynamic efficiencies of fixed-wing flight.

In this course, you will learn how to adapt the concepts you’ve learned so far and successfully fly a fixed-wing aircraft in simulation.

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Fixed-Wing Flight
  • Lesson 2: Lift and Drag
  • Lesson 3: Longitudinal Model
  • Lesson 4: Lateral-Directional Model
  • Lesson 5: Fixed-Wing Autopilot
  • Lesson 6: Project: Fixed-Wing Control
Project 5 [Optional]: Fixed-Wing Control

In this project you will code a fixed-wing aircraft, and then implement solutions to a significantly more challenging control problem.