Physical Web BLE Drone Project

This summer, we at Wireless Trondheim have been working at a Web BLE API drone. The idea was simple: Buy a standard commercially available drone, swap the standard flight controller with a custom one and get it flying.

Our custom nRF52 flight controller
Our custom nRF52 flight controller

The standard drone was a Spedix build kit from makeadrone.net. Our custom flight controller was based on the amazing nRF52 from Nordic Semiconductor. The nRF52 has good support for BLE, and we was in particular interested in Physical Web (eddystone) and BLE Web API.

The BLE Web API opens a whole range of new opportunities for your standard Web browser. This was not even remotely possible before without building a standard app. We thought, why should you buy expensive radio controllers for your RC toys, can’t you just controll them via your phone?

So we made a remote control for our browser using the BLE Web API. The prototype is simple, but it works! We send the standard channels throttle, yaw, pitch and roll to the flight controller. But it is possible to send plenty more data. Not just from the remote controller to the drone, but from the drone to the remote as well. Imaging sending data like battery status, location and all sort of fancy information. The possibilities are there, we are not limited by the 5-6 channels that are usual for most starter RC radios.

Screenshot of BLE Web API drone controller
Screenshot of the BLE Web API drone controller

As for the Physical Web part of the flight controller, we believe there are plenty good reason to put this into a flight controller. One of the key reasons that stop people from building their own drone is that they believe it is too complicated. We ask, why not make it stupid simple? With Physical Web and BLE Web API, it is possible to make a very interactive and simple building guide.

For example, it is very easy for the flight controller to check if everything is connected correct, and it should be even easier for the flight controller to tell the user which cable that aren’t connected as it should via the interactive guide.

Are you interested to see more? Come and see us at Trondheim Maker Faire 26. – 27. August. We will be showcasing the drone, and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.