Auto Flight System

A project log for Primary Buffer Panel v2

A glorified DIY joystick controller with an LCD (‘MFD’) and plenty of RGB.

beko-pharmBeko Pharm 5 days ago0 Comments

While seeking through the available data in the Status JSON of Elite Dangerous I noticed that I don’t get any airspeed from Elite. That’s not so important in space but kinda interesting in planetary flight to satisfy the flight sim gamer in me as well. I noticed though that I do get timestamped latitude, longitude and altitude values so shouldn’t it be possible to “simply” calculate this, right? Right?

An Auto Flight System for Elite?

This was when I dived into the rabbit hole of calculating airspeed and heading on planetary objects using a spherical coordinate system and while I didn’t nail it exactly how Elite does it the result is close enough. The game provides the required data to go crazy here – most important the radius of the current object. In theory I could start writing some primitive AFS (Auto Flight System) routines now, which I’m totally going to explore at some point in the future just because 🤓

Checking my maths – yes, altitude is added to the mix so airspeed is mostly correct as long as no rapid course changes are made.


After spending way too much time with this and the Pythagorean theorem (Yes mum, a game made me do maths. MATHS! 🤯) I settled with some calculations and data for my current ship to the right and targeted ship data on the left. This is sort of tricky because many game events update different parts of the data so timestamps have to be kept in mind and a game specific parsing strategy is required. See the last part of the demonstration video here to get an idea how this looks.

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