Category: Crazyflie

As noted in a previous post, Mike Hamer from ETH Zurich has been implementing an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) for the Crazyflie. The beginning of this week I am visiting Michael at ETH and we have now pushed the EKF to the Crazyflie master branch!

Visiting ETH is really nice, and it is very impressive to see the Flying Machine Arena in real life. Though, owing to the Crazyflie’s size, we do not need such a big space and can work in a more regular-sized room.

The EKF has now been added to the master branch but is not enabled by default. It is currently intended to be used with the Loco positioning system (although it should be easy enough to integrate with onboard GPS, or potentially offboard motion capture measurements). While it does fly better than the currently used, offboard particle filter for autonomous flight, it requires some care to work properly. I am going to update the wiki description for the loco positioning to document how to get started with the EKF during the week. Our hope is that through community engagement and feedback, we can continue to improve and tune the filter, now that Mike has put the basic functionality in place.

The greatest enhancement is that the Crazyflie is now able to estimate its own position, without the help of an external computer. Coupled with the onboard controller, the Crazyflie can now fly fully autonomously. I have also pushed a new example in the Crazyflie python lib that shows how to send an X/Y/Z set-point to fly the Crazyflie, allowing it to fly through waypoints.

In the near future we (Bitcraze, and hopefully, the community!) need to work on a couple of more things to make it fly even better

  • Revamp of the controller: the current controller is a position controller, splitting it in two controllers, one for position and one for velocity, would allow for a more stable flight and to finally use TheSeanKelly new PID settings!
  • Implementing TDOA positioning on the LPS would allow more than one Crazyflie to fly at the same time
  • Implementing the new commander packet in the Crazyflie, python lib and ROS driver. This will allow us to stop hacking the current commander each time we need a new functionality (such as onboard position control) — and since I have push rights, only my hacks get pushed, which is unfair ;-).

Mike will describe the Kalman filter in greater details in a future post. In the mean time we will update on the progress in the Loco Positioning mailing list.

The loco positioning hardware is now manufactured and we are working hard on making it available. Loco positioning is still in early access, which means that we have tested the hardware but that the software still requires some love.

One of the big features still to implement is a position stabilization and position sensor fusion in the Crazyflie. This has been worked on from two fronts in the last weeks.

Community member jackemoore has been working hard on getting the Crazyflie 2.0 with a GPS deck working with position hold. He is getting close to having a GPS position hold working but has stumbled upon some system bugs that have to be solved first. You can follow, or even better help out, with the development on the forum post.

Mike Hamer, from ETH Zurich, has started to implement a Kalman filter, based on one of his publications, for the Crazyflie 2.0 firmware. This is still very much a work in progress but the initial results look promising. Mike has found and fixed a bunch of bugs on the way, which has greatly improved the firmware quality and stability. Since it is able to fuse the position estimate with the internal sensors, the Kalman filter will pair nicely with the GPS implementation from jackemoore to add a new layer of stability, as well as with the Loco positioning system. In addition, the Kalman filter is being written in such a way that it should be easy to incorporate additional sensors into the estimate. Keep your eyes open for a blog post in a couple of weeks with more detail on the Kalman filter’s inner workings, and hopefully a fully functional Kalman filter in the Crazyflie shortly thereafter :-).

We are right now eagerly awaiting the first batch of the Loco positioning system to be done and ready for shipping. The interest for the early access release has been very encouraging and we are super happy about the attention we have received from all around the world.

We have made a new video about how to get started with the Loco positioning system that we hope you will enjoy. The video is showing the process from receiving the Loco Positioning system up to having an autonomous flying Crazyflie. The written information can be found on the wiki.

We are excited to announce that we have just started the production of the first boards for the Loco Positioning system!
Since this is the first batch of a complex new product, we thought we should be there in person. This time, Tobias and Kristoffer went to visit Seeedstudio, our product manufacturer. It is always very nice to meet them in person and to visit the factory.
Also visiting the factory is always an opportunity to discover a new fashion style!


The first boards to be produced are the Loco Nodes:


After a minor problem: we specified the LEDs to be mounted reversed, quickly found and fixed for this first batch by the Seeedstudios engineers, the production of the nodes is looking good and the first 8 pieces are flawless!


To go with the nodes, we need to have the Loco decks. Like for the other decks we have implemented the test rig based on a Crazyflie 2.0 programmed with special flags for the test. We found some issues with the rig software but it has been quickly sorted out. So the launch of the deck production, tomorrow Tuesday, should be without any hick-ups. This is what a deck test rig looks like (note the Crazyflie 2.0 being attached on the bottom):

In other news we’re welcoming Aman in the Bitcraze team for the summer. Aman is flying straight from Kiruna at the very north of Sweden (before that from Germany and even before from his university in the US). He will be looking at improving control and stability of the Crazyflie. The fist step today was to learn how to fly it manually :-).

While it is a central part of a quadcopter the core of the Crazyflie 2.0 had not moved since we released it. We deemed it to be good enough, it was flying and going fast after all.

Recently TheSeanKelly from the community did not hear it that way and started investigating the flight performance starting by the attitude control PID. The results so far are impressive!

Sean tuned the rate loop a lot, this is the loop responsible to control the angular rate of the Crazyflie in roll and pitch. Doing that and the attitude loop could be tweaked which we did a bit, the one responsible to control the absolute orientation of the copter. And the results is that two major issues with the flight performance seems to be greatly improved:

  • The take-off behavior: Crazyflie is currently not taking-off straight by itself. With the new settings this is fixed and at any thrust Crazyflie just goes straight up.
  • Attitude control: We had a lot of overshot in the attitude control. Basically it means that if you go forward 10 degrees and request 0 degree (level) the Crazyflie will overshoot with a negative angle causing it to stop. With the new tighter control if you ask +10degrees pitch the crazyflie accelerates and if you ask 0 it just stop accelerating. It will then continue at nearly constant speed. This is the “correct” behavior. This also means that the Crazyflie now reacts much more precisely and quickly to joystick controls.

We have tried to make a short video to show the new performance. Though the attitude control is really hard to show. We installed a test pilot on our Crazyflie that shows how much the new parameters helps in overall stability (I have tried to steer with old parameters as hard as I was steering with the new one). We also show more stability in pretty windy condition.

These new parameter have been pushed protected by an experimental flag. After more testing the official firmware will have much better flight performance out of the box :-).

Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to make a field trip to Gothenburg (Sweden) where we visited the students and teachers at Chalmers University of Technology.


The Crazyflie 2.0 is used by the students as a development platform for the course “Embedded control systems“, which makes us all very happy since we are passionate about education. I mean how cool is it not to see how students use your product to gain new knowledge!

While visiting Kristoffer held a guest lecture to the students and we also took the opportunity to discuss with Associate Professor Knut Åkesson about why and how the Crazyflie 2.0 is part of the course.


A few of the topics that were mentioned was the big benefit with Crazyflie 2.0 being open and how that enabled the students to easily getting started implementing their own code.

If you want to read more about why the teachers at Chalmers choosed the Crazyflie 2.0 and how they use it for education, visit our newly added web section “Used in education”.

As some of you might know, we are working full ahead on developing a local positioning system for the Crazyflie 2.0 ecosystem. There are many things to be done and we just took two major step by improving the stabilizer code architecture and moving the position control code into the firmware. Getting the position from an external system is fine and dandy, but we also have to control the pitch, roll and yaw of the Crazyflie to keep its desired position. Up til now we have been running this control algorithm outside the Crazyflie in an external computer, but now we have moved it into the Crazyflie itself. The controller is a simple PID controller and can definitely be improved, but the main purpose of the work has been to improve the architecture in this area. We know there are people in the community working on position related features and we hope the new architecture will make it easier for us all to implement the bits and pieces needed to get an autonomous Crazyflie. The estimation of the position has not been implemented in the firmware yet but the architecture now has support for it.

The general layout of the new architecture is as follow:

  • The sensors are gyroscope, accelerometer and pressure sensor. More could and will be added in the future like position and altitude measurement.
  • The state estimator calculate an as good as possible estimate of the Crazyflie state using the sensor values. The state contains the Crazyflie orientation (roll, pitch, yaw), its position and speed. Currently the state estimator has complementary filters for the orientation and the altitude. In the near future the full position will be estimated as well.
  • The commander generate a setpoint to be followed by the Crazyflie. Currently this is only done by receiving commander packet from the ground using Crazyradio or bluetooth low energy.
  • The state controller generates control output to achieve the requested setpoint from the current state.
  • Finally the power distribution is translating controls from the controller into driving the actual motors.

This is implemented in stabilizer.c and each block is implemented in there own file. Stabilizer.c used to be very verbose and complex to read and modify, it has now been greatly simplified and the above architecture is implemented in one short loop (see the full code in GitHub):

while(1) {
  vTaskDelayUntil(&lastWakeTime, F2T(RATE_MAIN_LOOP)); // 1KHz

  sensorsAcquire(&sensorData, tick);
  stateEstimator(&state, &sensorData, tick);
  commanderGetSetpoint(&setpoint, &state);
  stateController(&control, &sensorData, &state, &setpoint, tick);

Our philosophy with this new architecture is to keep the code as simple as possible and to allow customisation at compile time. The high-level functions have as simple as possible interface and so can be exchanged easily. So if tomorrow, we have a shiny new controller we just have to compile it instead of the current PID controller. We think that this fits the way the Crazyflie is used, as a development tool.

This is just the beginning: there is still some more to clean-up in the functions and we will most certainly enhance the code from feedback. Please tell us if this is useful and how it can be enhanced even more.

Crazyflie 2.0 already has two mobile clients, one for Android maintained by Fred and the iPhone client. Now we officially have a new one on development: the Windows client.


Theseankelly, from the community, has started a Windows client for Crazyflie 2.0. It connects Crazyflie using bluetooth low energy and works both on phone and on PC running windows. Last week, he transferred the source code repos in the Bitcraze github so that it can have more visibility. We plan to eventually released it in the Windows store, but first it needs to have a little bit more features :-). To this end we have created a milestone on GitHub and have filled a couple of tasks. The plan is to get to a minimum set of functionalities. That for, we will focus on phone support first but if you are interested in PC support do not hesitate to say so and push tickets for it (gamepad support and configuration is the first thing I can think about for desktop support).

Last week Fred released a new version of the Android client. The outstanding new feature is a support of the LED and Buzzer decks when using Crazyradio! It means that you can now change the light effects and play sounds on the Crazyflie from the phone. This is even better because it means that the Android client code is now able to access the param subsystem and soon the log subsystem: this will allow for much more interactions in the future (like access to advanced Crazyflie settings and supporting more decks). The support of decks using BLE and more are on going so stay tuned and if you have any functionality request please head to the GitHub ticket tracker.


We have just released a new version 2016.04.1 of the Crazyflie client.


The biggest change is actually not so visible but very important: we have now separated the GUI client from the Crazyflie lib. The great advantage is that the lib became a small project and could be pushed to pypi. This means that if you want to control Crazyflie from your own Python program all you have to do is to “pip install cflib” and you are ready to “import cflib” in your program to control the Crazyflie.

For the new release of the client we also pushed the client in pypi as well. This will be mainly useful in Linux and Mac where you are now able to install the client with “pip3 install cfclient”. One little drawback however: since the GUI lib we are using, pyqt, is not in pypi it has to be installed on the side. This can be done in Ubuntu with something like “sudo apt-get python3-pyqt4 install python3-pyqtgraph” or on Mac with homebrew or MacPorts.

Last but not least we have enabled Windows continuous integration with appveyor and fixed the Windows build. This means that a Windows build and installer are going to be generated for every commit in the Crazyflie client repos. Maintaining the Windows client has always been a challenge to us since we are mainly Linux users, so the this will help a lot to keep good Windows support. We still consider this Windows build to be somewhat experimental so please test it and report any bug you are hitting.

The last system to support for executable distribution is Mac. We did put some time trying to generate a mac app out of the client without any success. If anyone wants to give it a try or have some tips please head to the ticket on github.

Historically the main way to control a Crazyflie has been by using a computer running a Crazyflie client and communicating with a Crazyradio (PA). However since very early we have made an Android client that also communicated using the Crazyradio. This was at the very beginning of USB On-The-Go for Android and it allowed to fly without a PC. When we released Crazyflie 2.0 with Bluetooth LE support we made an iPhone client as well as adding bluetooth to the Android client.

The Android App is the oldest and thanks to the community the most fully featured. It has a community maintainer, Fred, that is doing a great job a keeping the app stable and adding features.


With the Android app you can fly with both touchscreen control and game-pad control. It works with Bluetooth and Crazyradio. It can update Crazyflie 1.0 and Crazyflie 2.0 firmware using Crazyradio and soon Bluetooth for Crazyflie 2.0. Soon the possibility to use deck functionality like LED ring and Buzzer will be added.

The iPhone app is, for the moment, a bit more simple:



It allows to fly and update Crazyflie 2.0 using Bluetooth low energy. There has already been a couple of contribution to keep the app up to date with Apple dev tools and more featured are currently being pushed.

Finally there is a new one coming soon. A windows 10 app prototype has been done by theseankelly and is just waiting to be enhanced. The exciting parts is that it works on Windows phone but it is also the first Bluetooth GUI client for Crazyflie 2.0 on desktop platform (there is nodejs libs that supports BLE on computer but no GUI that I know off, if I am wrong please comment!).


A great thanks to all the contributors, the mobile clients for Crazyflie would not be that far without you! If you are interested in mobile development you are welcome to contribute, these clients started as a “just to fly” remote control but they could do so much more.