Sending Commands to Bebop


bebop_tools package comes with a launch file for tele-operating Bebop with a joystick using ROS joy_teleop package. The configuration file (key-action map) is written for Logitech F710 controller and is located in bebop_tools/config folder. Adapting the file to your own controller is straightforward. To teleop Bebop while the driver is running execute roslaunch bebop_tools joy_teleop.launch.


Publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to takeoff topic.

$ rostopic pub --once [namespace]/takeoff std_msgs/Empty


Publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to land topic.

$ rostopic pub --once [namespace]/land std_msgs/Empty


Publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to reset topic.

$ rostopic pub --once [namespace]/reset std_msgs/Empty


To move Bebop around, publish messages of type geometry_msgs/Twist to cmd_vel topic while Bebop is flying. The effect of each field of the message on Bebop’s movement is listed below:

linear.x  (+)      Translate forward
          (-)      Translate backward
linear.y  (+)      Translate to left
          (-)      Translate to right
linear.z  (+)      Ascend
          (-)      Descend
angular.z (+)      Rotate counter clockwise
          (-)      Rotate clockwise

Acceptable range for all fields are [-1..1]. The drone executes the last received command as long as the driver is running. This command is reset to zero when Takeoff, Land or Emergency command is received. To make Bebop hover and maintain its current position, you need to publish a message with all fields set to zero to cmd_vel.

The linear.x and linear.y parts of this message set the pitch and roll angles of the Bebop, respectively, hence control its forward and lateral accelerations. The resulting pitch/roll angles depend on the value of ~PilotingSettingsMaxTiltCurrent parameter, which is specified in degrees and is dynamically reconfigurable (Dynamically Reconfigurable Parameters for Bebop).

The linear.z part of this message controls the vertical velocity of the Bebop. The resulting velocity in m/s depends on the value of ~SpeedSettingsMaxVerticalSpeedCurrent parameter, which is specified in meters per second and is also dynamically reconfigurable (Dynamically Reconfigurable Parameters for Bebop). Similarly, the angular.z component of this message controls the rotational velocity of the Bebop (around the z-axis). The corresponding scaling parameter is SpeedSettingsMaxRotationSpeedCurrent (in degrees per sec).

roll_degree       = linear.y  * max_tilt_angle
pitch_degree      = linear.x  * max_tilt_angle
ver_vel_m_per_s   = linear.z  * max_vert_speed
rot_vel_deg_per_s = angular.z * max_rot_speed

Moving the Virtual Camera

To move Bebop’s virtual camera, publish a message of type geometry_msgs/Twist to camera_control topic. angular.y and angular.z fields of this message set absolute tilt and pan of the camera in degrees respectively. The field of view of this virtual camera (based on our measurements) is ~80 (horizontal) and ~50 (vertical) degrees.


The API for this command is not stable. We plan to use JointState message in future versions.

angular.y (+)      tilt down
          (-)      tilt up
angular.z (+)      pan left
          (-)      pan right

GPS Navigation

Start Flight Plan

An autonomous flight plan consists of a series of GPS waypoints along with Bebop velocities and camera angles encoded in an XML file.

Requirements that must be met before an autonomous flight can start:

  • Bebop is calibrated
  • Bebop is in outdoor mode
  • Bebop has fixed its GPS

To start an autonomous flight plan, publish a message of type std_msgs/String to autoflight/start topic. The data field should contain the name of the flight plan to execute, which is already stored on-board Bebop.


If an empty string is published, then the default ‘flightplan.mavlink’ is used.


If not already flying, Bebop will attempt to take off upon starting a flight plan.

The Flight Plan App allows easy construction of flight plans and saves them on-board Bebop.

An FTP client can also be used to view and copy flight plans on-board Bebop. FileZilla is recommended:

$ sudo apt-get install filezilla
$ filezilla

Then open Site Manager (top left), click New Site:

  • Host:
  • Protocol: FTP
  • Encrpytion: Use plain FTP
  • Logon Type: Anonymous
  • Connect.

Pause Flight Plan

To pause the execution of an autonomous flight plan, publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to autoflight/pause topic. Bebop will then hover and await further commands. To resume a paused flight plan, publish the same message that was used to start the autonomous flight (ie. to the topic autoflight/start). Bebop will fly to the lastest waypoint reached before continuing the flight plan.


Any velocity commands sent to Bebop during an autonomous flight plan will pause the plan.

Stop Flight Plan

To stop the execution of an autonomous flight plan, publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to autoflight/stop topic. Bebop will hover and await further commands.

Flat Trim


Test fails, probably not working.

Publish a message of type std_msgs/Empty to flattrim topic.

$ rostopic pub --once [namespace]/flattrim std_msgs/Empty

Flight Animations


Be extra cautious when performing any flight animations, specially in indoor environments.

Bebop can perform four different types of flight animation (flipping). To perform an animation, publish a message of type std_msgs/UInt8 to flip topic while drone is flying. The data field determines the requested animation type.

0       Flip Forward
1       Flip Backward
2       Flip Right
3       Flip Left

Take on-board Snapshot

New in version 0.4.1.

To take a high resolution on-board snapshot, publish a std_msgs/Empty message on snapshot topic. The resulting snapshot is stored on the internal storage of the Bebop. The quality and type of this image is not configurable using the ROS driver. You can use the official FreeFlight3 app to configure your Bebop prior to flying. To access the on-board media, either connect your Bebop over USB to a computer, or use a FTP client to connect to your Bebop using the following settings:

  • Default IP:
  • Port: 21
  • Path: internal_000/Bebop_Drone/media
  • Username: anonymous
  • Password: <no password>

Set camera exposure

It is possible to set camera exposure by publishing std_msgs/Float32 message on set_exposure topic. Note that this functionality is not supported in Bebop1 Fw 3.3.0.

  • Exposure value range: -3.0 .. +3.0

Toggle on-board Video Recording

New in version 0.4.1.

To start or stop on-board high-resolution video recording, publish a std_msgs/Bool message on the record topic. The value of true starts the recording while the value of false stops it. Please refer to the previous section for information on how to access the on-board recorded media.