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DJI Matrice Part 6 – Matrice Simulator, Software and Manifold Example

The DJI Matrice 100 is a quadcopter for developers. The drone allows developers to customize the flight platform using the DJI SDK. Today we go over some of the DJI software, and build a provided Manifold example. Looky here:

Background

DJI provides several tools for working with the Matrice 100. There are the DJI Assistant 2, Guidance Assistant Software, the Flight Simulator, and the Manifold development kit. The DJI Assistant 2, Guidance Assistant and Flight Simulator for the Matrice run on Windows. In the above video, the demonstration was performed on a Window 8.1 installation.

One of the things that DJI also provides is called the DJI WIN Driver Installer which is basically a USB driver which allows the Matrice to speak to the PC over USB. There is an installation issue when installing this package on Windows 8.1. Back in the time frame when Windows 8 was being released, there was a major push by Microsoft to make Windows more secure. There were several different changes to the OS which provided a more “secure” environment. One of these changes was requiring drivers, such as the DJI WIN Driver, to be signed and 64 bit. Unfortunately the WIN Driver does not meet this criteria.

There is a work around for installing the driver, which involves some Windows magic which I will not cover here. Basically you reconfigure the PC during the booting procedure to tell it that it’s all right to install drivers that don’t meet the more stringent current standard.

This is all fine and well, but unfortunately there’s no way to know this when you naively install the driver for the first time on a Window 8+ box. The installation simply says ‘Installation Failed’, with no further information given. Let’s just say there’s a lot of guessing involved as to what to do to rectify the issue. I did not see any good information in the DJI forums about the issue, but I may have just overlooked it.

But here’s the thing: Windows is much more secure now with the changes. At the same time, the actual usability of the operating system has slipped well below what a reasonable person should be able to expect. Not a knock, MS has a lot of people working on such issues, but at the end of the day the PC has to be able to help people accomplish things other than making sure that the PC is ‘secure’.

Software Installation and Updates

In software systems as complex as the Matrice, there are usually firmware updates required to the flight controller and other on board systems. These updates are done through the DJI Assistant 2 software. The Intelligent Batteries which power the Matrice are also updated through the DJI Assistant software. The Guidance system firmware is updated through the Guidance Assistant.

The Manifold, which is NVIDIA Tegra based, is maintained in a different manner as the Manifold is a computer in its own right. Note that upon receiving the Manifold, a system image backup was made and stored away for safe keeping.

Flight Simulator

For the developer, simulators are very important tools when dealing with robots. DJI has a flight simulator which allows the PC to connect to the Matrice flight controller with a USB cable. When in simulation mode, the flight simulator mimics the actions that are being run through the physical flight controller on the quadcopter. This feature will prove very useful when developing code, as it allows the code to be run through the simulator to predict how the quadcopter will react.

Manifold Demo Example

Also in the video above, a small demo provided with the Manifold is compiled and executed. The program is simple, it takes the video from the Zenmuse X3 camera and displays it on a monitor attached to the Manifold HDMI port.

DJI Matrice Software Simulator