After watching the amazing Bill Nesbitt AutoiQuad videos (http://diydrones.com/xn/detail/705844%3ABlogPost%3A467650) I have to wonder if we are hitting a wall with our current hardware.These videos seem to show far more precision than any version of Arduino software has ever had. Apparently, part of the reason the AutoQuad can do extreme position hold, fast mission with precision waypoints, spin in place, etc. (in addition to some top-notch code!) is the much higher processing power now available.
Is it likely the current Arduino can ever approach this? Is his hardware a lot more expensive?
The way I see it there isn't much left in the APM code that would qualify as Arduino "compatible". The code use direct hardware access not supported by native Arduino commands and has grown to much for any average Joe with some Arduino programming experience to just jump in and start programming the core stuff.
So what is left is the simple programming IDE and bootloader, making it easy for average "Joe" to make small changes like adding a new servo mix and such.
Looking at the rate of expansion it is only a matter of time before a new platform is needed. As the code grows even more there will be need for a underlying management system (possibly a RTOS) to keep the code from getting convoluted and buggy.
In the future there might be an ArduPilot operating system or kernel with core functionality like communication, IMU, servo control, telemetry, etc. And a easy to use IDE and library for accessing these core functions in a sensible way. A Arduino replacement made from scratch for autopilot system if you like. That way you keep the Arduino mentality but is free to change and add hardware as needed.