Simulation allows for safe testing of experimental code and settings and crashing virtual vehicles is a lot cheaper than crashing real ones!


We recommend starting with Software In The Loop (SITL) because the setup is easiest, it does not require a flight controller, and all vehicle types are supported.

The most commonly used simulators are:

  • SITL (Software In The Loop) is the simulator most commonly used by developers. It is a simple simulator that is built within all SITL builds of ArduPilot. It is used by the autotester and other simulators below are actually built on top of SITL
  • Gazebo is the official DARPA virtual robotics simulator
  • XPlane-10 a commercial flight simulator with a rich 3D interface
  • XPlane-10 Soaring soaring on XPlane-10
  • RealFlight a commercial flight simulator with a rich 3D interface and ability to design custom vehicles
  • Morse a robotics simulation environment commonly used in research
  • Replay has no graphical interface but allows re-running master from a dataflash log
  • JSBSim is a sophisticated open-source plane and multicopter simulator with no graphical interface. It can be used with a wide variety of airframes.
  • AirSim is an open-source, cross-platform simulator for drones & cars, built on Unreal Engine for physically and visually realistic simulations
  • Silent Wings Soaring

Less often used simulators include:

  • Last Letter is a simpler simulator (fixed wing only) with lower CPU requirements than most other simulators.
  • CRRCSim is a less commonly used simulator for fixed wing and helictopers.
  • Hardware In the Loop (HITL) simulation runs ArduPilot on the flight controller using raw sensor data fed in from the simulated environment running on the desktop PC. HITL is only supported for Plane.
  • SCRIMMAGE is an open-source vehicle simulator focused on collaborative robotics

List of simulators (so they can appear in the menu):