Fly High – How to Upgrade Your Drone Using Javascript

Guest post by Anastasia Stefanuk

There is plenty to love about drones. The ominous, free-floating toys have completely changed the world and our way of living. By simply hovering above us and venturing into areas that no human can, they’ve been able to keep us safe, made our cities smarter, increased farming productivity, and helped save our planet. This proliferation of drones has seen an increase in the demand for Java developers for purposes of developing and supporting the ecosystem upon which they are built. 

Not forgetting the new breed of self-made filmmakers who are hired to cover their special events like birthdays, graduations, and weddings. 

But have you ever wondered how drones are programmed? Or even whether it’s possible to optimize their performance?

In this article, we are going to try and answer all these questions. While at it, we are also going to briefly look at the most commonly used programming languages for drones.

Brief Overview of the Drone Market

For several years, controversies surrounding drones significantly impacted on their massive adoption, which saw them stuck in their nascent phase. Fast-forward to today, they have shed the “military shell”  and grown to become powerful business tools.

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Source: Statista

According to a recent report by Statista, the global drones market will register a CAGR of 20% and it’s forecasted to hit the $40 billion mark by 2024. This will create massive market opportunities that are too large to ignore.

Key among the biggest drivers of this growth is the advancements in drone technologies. It has allowed drone manufacturers to design and produce a wide range of models in different shapes, sizes, weights, and sensor payload capacity.

Along with that, the easing of exemptions from governing bodies like FAA and EASA gives them a broad application base for both civil government and commercial activities. 

As with any thriving industry, it can be extremely difficult to find qualified talent to fill drone-related positions. For instance, rapid innovation within the drone industry is quickly outpacing training, resulting in limited skilled and stifled growth opportunities for the suppliers as well as providers. 

With the skills gap continuing to widen, approximately 90% of drone service providers and offshoot organizations are scrambling to hire java developers to fill vacant drone-related positions. For this reason, companies that have a greater chance of succeeding are those that are committed to recruiting and training in this area, although they have to offer an above-average java developer salary.

Commonly Used Programming Languages for Drones  

When it comes to choosing a programming language for your drone, it all boils down to the intended use. This is because programming a drone is one thing and a whole different ball-game programming it to perform specific tasks. 

Either way, you would have to choose the appropriate programming language to match the drone’s specific intended use.

With that said, there are a number of good programming languages out there to choose from. They include;

Python

Another great programming language for drones Python. On top of being one of the main ROS languages, it is easy to use and easily dispenses the time-consuming programming tasks like variable type defining and casting variable types. And just like Java programming language, it is interpreted.

Along with that, Python also comes with a huge number of free libraries, allowing the developers to hit the ground running. Moreover, it accommodates simple C/C++ code bindings, meaning the performance-heavy lines of code can be executed in the two languages without compromising on performance.

C/C++

One of the biggest advantages of using C and C++ in programming drones is that they have most of the hardware libraries that are commonly used in robotics. As such, they allow for real-time performance and better low-level hardware interaction.

With that said, C/C++ isn’t necessarily as simple to use compared to other languages like MATLAB or Python. However, it is the closest “standard language” that any robotics developer can get. 

How Can JS framework Help Improve Drones

Real-time Coding

If you are a java developer looking to program a simple drone maneuver such as controls and autonomous path, Node.js which is a Javascript’s framework will serve you well. Boasting of a simplified architecture, this high-level scripting language, will help in real-time coding and offer decent hardware facing and computational processing.

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Source: NodeCopter.com

To demonstrate Node.js’ ease-of-use use, the above code is that of a Node.JS controlled  A.R. Drone 2.0 quadcopter with WiFi, HD Camera, and stabilization system. To take over control, you simply need to install Node.Js and the ar-drone module. 

Next, create a Javascript file and run it via the command line and you are good to go. 

Establishing Multi-drone Communication Infrastructure

Another area that Javascript can help is in establishing a server infrastructure for multi-devices communication and a Leap Motion Controller. This is partly because the asynchronous nature of Node.js  allows it to receive and send multiple data streams simultaneously without interference. 

Additionally, Node also utilizes chain instructions callbacks, letting developers create a set of commands that kick in immediately when the preceding command is completed.

If you are an aspiring developer looking to pursue Java development as your area of specialization, events like Nodecopter and Drone Games give programmers an opportunity to showcase their coolest drone creations by reusing open-source code snippets to program different features like face recognition, voice to text, and advanced directional 3D movement.

Final Thoughts

With tech giants such as Google and Amazon testing drone delivery services and Facebook using them to provide Internet connections in remote locations, the future of the drone industry is undoubtedly bright and opportunities are limitless.

However, the new technologies emerging within the ecosystem day by day means the industry will continue demanding for skilled programmers, which is JavaScript has become such a desirable skill to have. 

On top of being one of the most commonly-used programming languages for developers, JS will be at the forefront of providing new and supporting solutions for the drones industry. JavaScript developers, on the other hand, will get to work on exciting tasks and still earn a great salary.

About the author:

“Anastasia Stefanuk is a passionate writer and Information Technology enthusiast. She works as a Content Manager at Mobilunity, a provider of dedicated development teams around the globe. Anastasia keeps abreast of the latest news in all areas of technology, Agile project management, and software product growth hacking, at the same time sharing her experience online to help tech startups and companies to be up-to-date.”