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.
  • SCRIMMAGE is an open-source vehicle simulator focused on collaborative robotics

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