Configuration at launch time#

Before launching the simulation, you can play on many parameters to put the simulated drone in the desired context. The present section describes the most frequently used ones.

First of all, the command line help pages can be accessed this way:

$ parrot-ue4-<xxxxx> -help
$ sphinx --help

Choosing the world level#

Most of the UE4 worlds come with several levels - or scenes. First, you can display the list of the available levels.

$ parrot-ue4-forest -list-levels

== Available levels ==========================================
  - main
  - sparse

Now, you can start the UE4 application selecting the desired level:

$ parrot-ue4-forest -level=sparse

Setting the spawn point#

The spawn point is the place in the scene where the drone will be dropped at startup. It is common to have several spawn points available in a given world level. To list up the possible spawn points:

$ parrot-ue4-landscape-mountains -level=main -list-spawn-points

== Available Spawn Points ====================================
- Name: Default
  Pose: 136.084000 191.384995 130.190002 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000
- Name: lake
  Pose: 168.300003 59.299999 101.519997 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000

There is always a Default spawn point in every world level.

Now you can run sphinx with the selected spawn point:

$ sphinx <my.drone>::pose=Lake

In case the predefined spawn points are not enough, you also can directly set the desired coordinates. Beware of taking a location slightly above the ground.

$ sphinx <my.drone>::pose="14.7 80.2 200.2 0 0 3.14159"

More information about poses and coordinates HERE

Setting custom GPS coordinates#

It is possible to override the default GPS coordinates by some user-defined. To do so, you need to add the option -gps-json to the parrot-ue4-xxx command line, like in the following example.

$ parrot-ue4-landscape-mountains -gps-json='{"lat_deg":-48.876667, "lng_deg":-123.393333, "elevation":1.5}'

Latitude and longitude are expressed in decimal degrees, while elevation is in meters.

Drone general settings#

For each supported drone model, there is .drone file in Parrot Sphinx’ installation directory. More precisely, .drone files are all located here:


The .drone file contains general settings of the drone to be simulated. Below is a typical example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<drone name="my_awesome_drone"



These settings are mainly related to connectivity and peripherals. Every single field included in this file can be overridden through the sphinx command line. If we wish to set the parameter wan_access to true:

$ sphinx <my.drone>::wan_access=true

On top of that change, let’s provide the path to a firmware image stored locally:

$ sphinx <my.drone>::wan_access=true::firmware="/to/my/local/"

Another way to customize the drone settings is copying the .drone file from the installation directory to a R/W directory of your choice, then editing the copied version.

Now let’s go through the generic parameters, i.e. not depending on the drone model.


Unique name of the drone.


String identifying the hardware on which the firmware image has to run.


Path or URL to the drone firmware. It can be expressed in several ways:

  • a path to an file, .e.g. /home/myself/sphinx/

  • a HTTP link, e.g. https://path/to/my/

  • an FTP address, e.g.


Path to the drone model folder to run Parrot Sphinx in Pure Model mode. Parameters model and firmware cannot be set to a non-empty string together. It would lead to a fatal error at startup.


The optional pose tag sets the initial pose of the drone’s center of gravity. Its value could either be the name of an existing spawn point in the world or a list of coordinates expressed in Gazebo system. See HERE for more details about the coordinates.

If the pose tag is not defined, the spawn point named “default” will be used by default.


The optional wifi_iface tag tells which Wi-Fi interface to take. There are three possible ways to use this tag:

  • empty string - Parrot Sphinx will not deploy any Wi-Fi AP.

  • auto - it automatically takes the first wireless interface available. If no interface is found, Wi-Fi link is deactivated silently.

  • interface name as it appears on the host when running iwconfig - this option is recommended when the host includes several wireless interfaces.


The optional wifi_channel tag forces the use of a specific wifi channel. In some particular cases, this option can help you out.


The optional mountbind tag sets the directory on host and the directory on simulated drone where the first will be mounted. It must follow the syntax host_dir:remote_mount_dir, where:

host_dir: absolute path of directory on host to mount on remote remote_mount_dir: absolute path on remote where the directory will be mounted




The optional fs_size tag sets the drone’s system disk size. If this tag is omitted the drone will use the host file system disk space. When this tag is present, it must contain a valid memory size: a positive integer optionally followed by a metric prefix ‘k’, ‘K’, ‘m’, ‘M’, ‘g’ or ‘G’. For example “1048576”, “1m” or “1M” are all equivalent to a 1 MB available disk space. The maximum value for this option is 2 GB.


The optional tags int_storage_size and ext_storage_size specify the size of the drone’s internal and external storages. If the tag is not set, a default value is used for the size of the corresponding storage: 500M for int_storage_size, 10G for ext_storage_size. If set to a value different from zero, a virtual device is created, mimicking an SD card or an eMMC memory.

The given sizes can be expressed with units, like for the fs_size option. E.g. 10M, 3G. Without unit, the values are supposed to be given in bytes.

The size can be suffixed by -raw, which leaves the storage in a “raw” state, meaning that it requires to be partitioned and formatted, which can be done using the same methods as with a real drone.

If the drone model does not include the storage for which we specify a size, the option has no effect.




The optional wan_access tag is a boolean value (can take “0”, “1”, “false”, or “true”). If set to true, it allows the simulated drone to access a Wide Area Network, i.e. the Internet.


If remote_ctrl_ip is left blank (default), the port forwarding mode is not activated. Otherwise, it expects a valid IPv4 address, pointing to the host that is going to run the controller application.

Model-specific configurations#

model-specific param expected values description default
with_front_cam 1 or 0 if 0, remove the frontal camera to lower the resource needs 1
simple_front_cam 1 or 0 if 1, the front cam is configured as a standard camera instead of a fisheye one. Stabilization is done by the simulator and not by the drone firmware 0
with_gimbal 1 or 0 if 1, activate all joints related to the gimbal(s). If 0, camera stabilization is faked. 0
with_front_stcam 1 or 0 if 1, add a stereo camera (i.e. a pair of cams) in the front part of the drone. 0
invisible_body 1 or 0 if 1, hides the drone's body. 0
photo_high_res 1 or 0 if 1, set the resolution of photo cameras to 8000x6000. 0


model-specific param