Aerial vehicle simulation options

Hi all!

In the light of the next Aerial ROS meeting about simulation, there is now a start of a page in the aerial robotics landscape. Anybody feels that there are any simulator that is important that is missing from this list? Or what is your experience with these?

These simulators have been found to support aerial flight:

These are some aerial robotics for simulation (with ROS support I think):

Also, there are also some aerial dynamic models that people can use as plugins for these simulators, but arguably there are most likely a lot more out there so this.

Hope to know more about your experience with these so we can use that as fuel for our next meeting :slight_smile:


I’d also like to add that there was [a workshop in ICRA 2023 London about Aerial Simulation](The Role of Robotics Simulators for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which will be interesting to watch as well for anybody interested:

Moreover, the next meeting of the ROS-aerial community working group will discuss this topic as well. Hope to see you there!

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A nice list of characteristics of an aerial robotic simulation should have we defined at our last meeting:

  • Physics gravity
  • Interaction objects with aerial robotics
  • Vision based but real is better
  • Interaction with water
  • Aerial manipulation
  • Load real world environments
  • Network simulation
  • Aerodynamic effects
  • System ID
  • Easily define new vehicles
  • Simulation electronics and battery
  • Ground station simulation
  • SITL/HITL interfaces

Any additions?


Can we call DCS world a simulator?
The graphics are much better, but modding is difficult.

That abbrivation stands for Digital Combat Simulator right?

I guess technically it is? I’m hesitant to put it on the list from my pacifists views but for completeness it should probably be on the list. Does anybody use this for drone development?

One thing that came out of the discussion was that we also need to think about making a clear definition of what is called a simulator and what is not… or subelements of it. think of other names for it as the word ‘simulation’ is extremely broad and confuses a lot of people too.

Also 2 simulators/models that people mentioned.

We should add those to the list as well.

What about O3DE? This is a pretty impressive demo for Cesium which seems to provide photorealistic terrain and urban buildings which is applicable for outdoor UAV’s.

That is interesting too. Anybody that used it for UAVS so far?

Also a little announcement, I’ve helped co-authoring a IEEE submitted paper which is a survey of UAV simulations based on the Aerial simulation workshop I co-organized for ICRA 2023. It has been submitted to IEEE for possible publication but it is now available already on the ArXiv:

‘Survey of Simulators for Aerial Robots’ by Dimmig et al (2023)

Hope this paper will useful for anyone swimming the vast aerial simulation ocean!

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I haven’t found any evidence but see no reason it couldn’t be. Maybe it’s lacking physics for flight dynamics.

Also, it seems that AirSim seems to have some kind of fork or wrapper called AirGen:

It seems to be limited to academics for free access so technically not open source anymore (which they can since it is MIT)