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Open AccessArticle

Open-Source Drone Programming Course for Distance Engineering Education

Department of Telematic Systems and Computation, Rey Juan Carlos University, 28942 Madrid, Spain
Electronic Technology Area, Rey Juan Carlos University, 28933 Madrid, Spain
JdeRobot Organization, Alcorcón, 28922 Madrid, Spain
Industrial Engineering Department, Francisco de Vitoria University, Pozuelo de Alarcón, 28223 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Electronics 2020, 9(12), 2163;
Received: 12 November 2020 / Revised: 10 December 2020 / Accepted: 14 December 2020 / Published: 17 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
This article presents a full course for autonomous aerial robotics inside the RoboticsAcademy framework. This “drone programming” course is open-access and ready-to-use for any teacher/student to teach/learn drone programming with it for free. The students may program diverse drones on their computers without a physical presence in this course. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) applications are essentially practical, as their intelligence resides in the software part. Therefore, the proposed course emphasizes drone programming through practical learning. It comprises a collection of exercises resembling drone applications in real life, such as following a road, visual landing, and people search and rescue, including their corresponding background theory. The course has been successfully taught for five years to students from several university engineering degrees. Some exercises from the course have also been validated in three aerial robotics competitions, including an international one. RoboticsAcademy is also briefly presented in the paper. It is an open framework for distance robotics learning in engineering degrees. It has been designed as a practical complement to the typical online videos of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Its educational contents are built upon robot operating system (ROS) middleware (de facto standard in robot programming), the powerful 3D Gazebo simulator, and the widely used Python programming language. Additionally, RoboticsAcademy is a suitable tool for gamified learning and online robotics competitions, as it includes several competitive exercises and automatic assessment tools. View Full-Text
Keywords: distance learning; open educational platform; drone programming; gamification; Python; ROS middleware distance learning; open educational platform; drone programming; gamification; Python; ROS middleware
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cañas, J.M.; Martín-Martín, D.; Arias, P.; Vega, J.; Roldán-Álvarez, D.; García-Pérez, L.; Fernández-Conde, J. Open-Source Drone Programming Course for Distance Engineering Education. Electronics 2020, 9, 2163.

AMA Style

Cañas JM, Martín-Martín D, Arias P, Vega J, Roldán-Álvarez D, García-Pérez L, Fernández-Conde J. Open-Source Drone Programming Course for Distance Engineering Education. Electronics. 2020; 9(12):2163.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cañas, José M.; Martín-Martín, Diego; Arias, Pedro; Vega, Julio; Roldán-Álvarez, David; García-Pérez, Lía; Fernández-Conde, Jesús. 2020. "Open-Source Drone Programming Course for Distance Engineering Education" Electronics 9, no. 12: 2163.

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