Quick Start

This topic shows how to quickly install a DroneKit-Python development environment and run a simple example to get vehicle attributes from a simulated Copter.


DroneKit-Python and the dronekit-sitl simulator are installed from pip on all platforms.

On Linux you will first need to install pip and python-dev:

sudo apt-get install python-pip python-dev

pip is then used to install dronekit and dronekit-sitl. Mac and Linux may require you to prefix these commands with sudo:

pip install dronekit
pip install dronekit-sitl

See Installing DroneKit and dronekit-sitl for more detailed installation instructions.

Basic “Hello Drone”

The script below first launches the simulator. It then imports and calls the connect() method, specifying the simulator’s connection string (tcp: The method returns a Vehicle object that we then use to query the attributes.

print "Start simulator (SITL)"
import dronekit_sitl
sitl = dronekit_sitl.start_default()
connection_string = sitl.connection_string()

# Import DroneKit-Python
from dronekit import connect, VehicleMode

# Connect to the Vehicle.
print("Connecting to vehicle on: %s" % (connection_string,))
vehicle = connect(connection_string, wait_ready=True)

# Get some vehicle attributes (state)
print "Get some vehicle attribute values:"
print " GPS: %s" % vehicle.gps_0
print " Battery: %s" % vehicle.battery
print " Last Heartbeat: %s" % vehicle.last_heartbeat
print " Is Armable?: %s" % vehicle.is_armable
print " System status: %s" % vehicle.system_status.state
print " Mode: %s" % vehicle.mode.name    # settable

# Close vehicle object before exiting script

# Shut down simulator

Copy the text above into a new text file (hello.py) and run it in the same way as you would any other standalone Python script.

python hello.py

You should see the following output from the simulated vehicle:

Start simulator (SITL)
Downloading SITL from http://dronekit-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/sitl/copter/sitl-win-copter-3.3.tar.gz
Connecting to vehicle on: 'tcp:'
>>> APM:Copter V3.3 (d6053245)
>>> Frame: QUAD
>>> Calibrating barometer
>>> Initialising APM...
>>> barometer calibration complete
Get some vehicle attribute values:
 GPS: GPSInfo:fix=3,num_sat=10
 Battery: Battery:voltage=12.587,current=0.0,level=100
 Last Heartbeat: 0.713999986649
 Is Armable?: False
 System status: STANDBY

That’s it- you’ve run your first DroneKit-Python script.

Next Steps

  • Learn more about Developing with DroneKit. This covers development best practices and coding standards, and has more information about installation, working with a simulator and setting up a companion computer.
  • Read through our step by step Guide to learn how to connect to your vehicle, takeoff, fly, and much more.
  • Check out our Examples.