Saturday 5:10 p.m.–5:40 p.m.

Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python

Scott Lobdell

Audience level:


This talk documents the journey of a less than conventional robotics application in which python is used as the logical controller of an autonomous 20 foot blimp. The blimp's autopilot features, prolonged air time, large size, and smooth motion make it the ideal platform for aerial photography. Giving the blimp an onboard controller reduces the overall costs and requirements of the operation.


Abstract This project demonstrates the wide versatility of the python programming language in a distributed system in which low-level code is required to interact with hardware components, and high-level code is preferable where development time and deployability are important factors. The entire blimp project consists of: - Wireless Remote Client application and GUI - Autopilot Algorithm - Live Video Feed Using OpenCV - Hardware Integration - Canon Camera Software Development Kit - Roboard RB-110 - XBEE RF Modules - Accelerometer, voltage sensor, compass, GPS - Django application to distribute and manage photos using EXIF data