DroneKit-Python apps are run in the context of a MAVProxy console. This can make debugging more challenging:

  • MAVLink updates are continually displayed in the console and may be interspersed with (or even mixed into) output from the script or a console debug session. This can make it hard to run a debug session or read debug output.
  • It is not possible to directly launch a script in a debug session. Instead debugging must be either started from within the script or the debugger must be attached to the running script.

That said, it is possible to effectively debug DroneKit apps. The main methods are discussed below.


We are actively working to improve debugging on DroneKit-Python! You can track progress and suggestions on Github Issue #118.

pdb - The Python Debugger

The Python Debugger - pdb can be used to debug DroneKit-Python apps. To start debugging, add set-trace() at the point where you want to break execution (as shown below):

# Get the vehicle
api = local_connect()
vehicle = api.get_vehicles()[0]

import pdb; pdb.set_trace()
print "Location: %s" % v.location

When you run the app, the code will stop at the marked line:

MAV> api start
AUTO> > c:\users\hamis_000\documents\vagranttesting\tmpdeleteme\<module>()
-> print "Location: %s" % v.location

Press Enter to bring up the (Pdb) prompt. This is where you can enter the commands to step through the code, show stack traces, etc. For example the console output below shows the w command being used to output the current stack trace.

(Pdb) w
 cAUTO> :\users\hamis_000\downloads\winpython-64bit-\python-2.7.6.amd64\lib\site-packages\droneapi\module\
 -> self.fn()amis_000\downloads\winpython-64bit-\python-2.7.6.amd64\lib\
 -> APIThread(self, lambda: execfile(args[1], g), args[1])

The available debugger commands are listed here. For more information about pdb see the Python Debugger site.


Pdb commands must be entered in the (Pdb) prompt. If you press “Enter” in an empty prompt the previous command will be called again. This is helpful if you want to s (step) through every line of code.

Other debuggers

At time of writing we don’t have information about how to debug DroneKit apps with other debuggers (although anecdotally gdb has successfully been used).

If you have information about how to set up and use other debuggers with DroneKit, please contribute them.