Setting up SITL on Linux

This page describes how to setup the SITL (Software In The Loop) on Linux. The specific commands were tested on Ubuntu from 12.10 to 16.04.


The SITL simulator allows you to run Plane, Copter or Rover without any hardware. It is a build of the autopilot code using an ordinary C++ compiler, giving you a native executable that allows you to test the behaviour of the code without hardware.

SITL runs natively on Linux and Windows. See the separate windows installation page for a windows install.


Install steps

Please follow each of the steps described below.

There is also a linked video below showing how to do the setup.

Download ardupilot

If you don’t have a copy of the ardupilot git repository then open a terminal and run:

git clone git://
cd ardupilot
git submodule update --init --recursive

Install some required packages

If you are on a debian based system (such as Ubuntu or Mint), we provide a script that will do it for you :

  • cd to the directory you cloned ardupilot into.
  • cd to the Tools/scripts directory cd Tools/scripts
  • run the script ./ You will be asked for your Ubuntu root password. Respond with “Y” when it asks if you wish to install a package.

Or if you are on a RPM based system (such as Fedora) run this:

yum install opencv-python wxPython python-pip pyserial scipy python-lxml python-matplotlib python-pexpect python-matplotlib-wx

Add some directories to your search path (Facultative)


ONLY if you didn’t run the install-prereqs script from previous step.

Add the following lines to the end of your ”.bashrc” in your home directory (notice the . on the start of that filename. Also, this is a hidden file, so if you’re using a file manager, make sure to turn on “show hidden files”).

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/ardupilot/Tools/autotest
export PATH=/usr/lib/ccache:$PATH

Then reload your PATH by using the “dot” command in a terminal

. ~/.bashrc

Start SITL simulator

To start the simulator first change directory to the vehicle directory. For example, for the multicopter code change to ardupilot/ArduCopter:

cd ardupilot/ArduCopter

Then start the simulator using The first time you run it you should use the -w option to wipe the virtual EEPROM and load the right default parameters for your vehicle. -w

After the default parameters are loaded you can start the simulator normally. First kill the you are running using Ctrl-C. Then: --console --map

Tip has many useful options, ranging from setting the simulation speed through to choosing the initial vehicle location. These can be listed by calling it with the -h flag (and some are demonstrated in Using SITL for ArduPilot Testing).


If the map titles don’t load, you can temporary change the map provider in the map window by clicking View/Service. To keep the new map service between launch, add the following lines to the end of your ”.bashrc” (change MicrosoftHyb by the provider you want):

export MAP_SERVICE="MicrosoftHyb"

Load a mission

Let’s also load a test mission. From within MAVProxy type:

wp load ../Tools/autotest/copter_mission.txt

copter_mission.txt contains a mission which flies in a loop around CMAC flying field in Australia. Now let’s takeoff!

Run the command “arm throttle” followed by “mode auto” and put some throttle on the simulated radio to trigger the takeoff.

arm throttle
mode auto
rc 3 1500

Your virtual aircraft should now takeoff.

Learn MAVProxy

To get the most out of SITL you really need to learn to use MAVProxy. Have a read of the MAVProxy documentation. Enjoy flying!

Using JSBSim

For ArduPlane you can choose several possible simulators. A popular choice is JSBSim, which you can enable with the -f jsbsim option to SITL.

JSBSim is a sophisticated flight simulator that is used as the core flight dynamics system for several well known flight simulation systems.

In the same directory (your home directory) run these commands:

git clone git://
sudo apt-get install libtool libtool-bin automake autoconf libexpat1-dev

If you are getting an error message saying you need a newer version of JSBSim then you can update it like this:

cd jsbsim
git pull
./ --enable-libraries

If using the JSBSim plane simulator you can specify a different JSBSim model than the default Rascal110 by specifying the model name using the -f parameter to, like this: -f jsbsim:MyModel --console --map

the model should be in the Tools/autotest/aircraft/ directory.

FlightGear 3D View (Optional)

Developers can optionally install the FlightGear Flight Simulator and use it (in view-only mode) to display a 3D simulation of the vehicle and its surroundings. This provides a much better visualization than the 2D maps and HUD flight displays provided by MAVProxy and Mission Planner.


FlightGear support is currently only in master (January 2016). It should appear in the next versions of the vehicle codelines (not present on current versions: Copter 3.3, Plane 3.4, Rover 2.5).


FlightGear:Simulated Copter at KSFO (click for larger view).

SITL outputs FlightGear compatible state information on UDP port 5503. We highly recommend you start FlightGear before starting SITL (although this is not a requirement, it has been found to improve stability in some systems).

The main steps (tested on Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS) are:

  1. Install FlightGear from the terminal:

    sudo apt-get install flightgear
  2. Open a new command prompt and run the appropriate shell file for your vehicle in /ardupilot/Tools/autotest/: (Plane) and (Copter).

    This will start FlightGear.

  3. Start SITL in the terminal in the normal way. In this case we’re specifying the start location as San Francisco airport (KSFO) as this is an interesting airport with lots to see: -L KSFO


    FlightGear will always initially start by loading scenery at KSFO (this is hard-coded into the batch file) but will switch to the scenery for the simulated location once SITL is started.


If the vehicle appear to be hovering in space (no
scenery) then FlightGear does not have any scenery files for the selected location. Choose a new location!

You can now takeoff and fly the vehicle as normal for Copter or Plane, observing the vehicle movement including pitch, yaw and roll.

Next steps

After installation, see Using SITL for ArduPilot Testing for guidance on flying and testing with SITL.