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Tansa: Dancing Robotics Platform

Build Status

An open platform for making drones dance! This project includes the following:

  1. Reference quadcopter electrical/mechanical designs used for developing the system

    • Around $500 BOM cost. Requires a drill, saw, 3d printer, off the shelf parts, and time to replicate.
    • Features 2 controllable spotlights for theatrical purposes
    • See hardware/ directory
  2. Drone control algorithms and drivers

    • Written in C++ with no dependency on ROS
    • Interface to networked MAVLink vehicles
    • Trajectory generation and control
      • Control based on the paper: Minimum Snap Trajectory Generation and Control for Quadrotors by Daniel Mellinger and Vijay Kumar
    • Motion capture support
      • Driver for using with OptiTrack Motive 1.9.0
    • Simulation Environment Integration
      • All simulation integrations are multi-drone capable out of the box
      • Gazebo support via PX4/sitl_gazebo
  3. Operator User Interface

    • HTML/JS interface based for visualizing and running scripts


Unless otherwise specified, all current files and future contributions in this repository are distributed under the MIT License (see LICENSE file).


This platform was primary developed for UNIX based OSes (Linux / Mac OS X), but should be mostly compatible with Windows as well (probably won't compile on windows in it's current state though).

You can optionally skip most of this and try using one of your prebuilt Docker images (see config/docker/ directory).

For running/compiling the core code, the following libraries must be installed:

  • CMake
  • Eigen3
  • Boost
  • CGAL

For running the simulations, all dependencies on the PX4 toolchain/gazebo SITL environment must be met:

UI Dependencies

  • Node.js >6.0.0
  • A recent web browser such as Google Chrome that supports WebGL

Recommended/Optional Dependencies:

  • The IBM CPLEX library is a recommended addition if you are using advanced trajectory generation. It is required for making collision free trajectories. If not included, it will fallback to the less stable CGAL solvers when possible.


  1. Run make build to compile all the core libraries

  2. Run make build_firmware to build the nested PX4 code and all code needed for Gazebo simulation

  3. Run npm install to download packages needed for the GUI

Alternatively, run make sim to start up a multidrone simulator

Run make run to build the core stuff and start up the controller. Make sure that config.json has the right filepaths, and the right ip addresses if not using simulator.


Once everything is built, you can run ./ to quick start into a simulator with the UI running.

The script does three things

  1. Starts the main gcs program via make run

    • This communicates and controls the drones
  2. Starts the simulator using make runSim

  3. Serves the UI via make server


Viewable at after starting the server

  • The root url will take you to the web-based 3d viewer and control suite

  • Each 'choreography' is available to load and correspondences to files in the data/ folder

  • Upon loading a file, the drones should automatically spawn into the environment


See the doc folder

A full source code documentation page can be generated by running make doc. Then the documentation can be viewed from /build_doc/html/index.html


Dancing Robotics Platform





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