Intel's Aero drone development platform coming next month

I'm excited about this, not least because Aero will support the Dronecode stack out of the box. From PC World:

Intel in December will start shipping a fully loaded drone kit to let you do just that, with all the parts including the rotors, software, 3D camera and flight controller.

Intel's Aero Ready to Fly Drone kit will go on sale on the company's website. An Intel spokeperson couldn't immediately provide a price. But it won't be cheap—likely more than $600.

The quadcopter kit has parts that Intel uses to build its own drones. On the company's part, the drone airshows it has organized are getting ambitious: the company has put up 100, and most recently, 500 drones in the sky.

Drones themselves are getting sophisticated. DJI's Phantom has chips and 3D cameras that can navigate safely while avoiding collisions. The Intel Aero Ready to Fly Drone kit has the 3D RealSense camera, which can measure distances and recognize objects and help the drones, when programmed correctly, to fly autonomously to a given destination.

The 3D RealSense camera attaches to a central computer called the Aero Compute Board, which gives the drone its computing horsepower. (Intel also sells the Aero Compute Board separately for $399.) It is powered by a quad-core Atom X7-Z8700 CPU code-named Cherry Trail. It also has LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a flight controller. The board also has 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 16GB of flash storage, a micro-SD slot, a micro-HDMI port, and a wide set of connectors for adapters and breakout boards. It also has the Altera Max 10 FPGA, which can reprogrammed for image recognition, navigation and other deep-learning tasks.

The drone will work with the Airmap software development kit for navigation. Programming will also be required to put the drone in the air. For example, you can use the RealSense SDK to program image recognition for the 3D camera.

An overview on how to build drones from the recent Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2016 is available on Youtube.

The kit will ship in some countries in North America, Europe and Asia. For U.S. buyers Intel has included a caveat relating to government regulations on requiring authorization to fly drones.

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Comment by Auturgy on November 10, 2016 at 4:28am
Has the IMU been removed from the Aero board? It's clear that the rtf is shipping with a separate flight controller- I just don't quite understand why, when the Aero has/has an imu and compass on the pcb. Seems like a waste of BoM and a uart if the sensors are still there!
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 10, 2016 at 5:42am

I believe it's because PX4 can't run natively on Linux.  So it has to run on the FC.  

You can run Ardupilot directly under Linux without the FC.  This code is ready to go today, people are already doing it.

Comment by Auturgy on November 10, 2016 at 6:05am
I thought I saw posts with px4 on Bepop and Erlebrain. Not Aero though? Intel must be unhappy with DroneCode!
But you could buy one, take the FC off, load Arducopter onto the Aero and have a spare FC :)
Comment by HackInvent on November 10, 2016 at 6:42am

In a competition, we saw a similar platform powered by Raspberry Pi Compute  and two Atmel SAME70@300MHz with stereo vision.

It flies using PX4 stack : http://uav.marobot.com/

Comment by Patrick Poirier on November 10, 2016 at 7:06am

We are now calling a Flight Controller  a STACK ?

Well, I guess I need a major apt-get update then...Always though that  a STACK was a group of programs that work in tandem to produce a result or achieve a common goal. 

Comment by HackInvent on November 10, 2016 at 7:15am

@Patrick, all my appologies, the word stack comes from a guy who doesn't even know what is exactly what is a flight controller, sorry :'(

Comment by Patrick Poirier on November 10, 2016 at 7:18am

Hackinvent , no offense that was not directed to you but to what Chris wrote: 

"I'm excited about this, not least because Aero will support the Dronecode stack out of the box"

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 10, 2016 at 8:21am

I thought I saw posts with px4 on Bepop and Erlebrain.

Can you link to those?  I suspect you may be confusing PX4 with Ardupilot, which can definitely run on Bebop and Erlebrain.

In a competition, we saw a similar platform powered by Raspberry Pi Compute  and two Atmel SAME70@300MHz with stereo vision.

Where are the details?


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 10, 2016 at 8:28am

Patrick: the terms stack means the complete components of a platform such that nothing else is needed to run applications on top of it (definition). A flight controller is *part* of a stack, but you need a lot more to be a full-stack. Here's what the PX4 stack does to extend from the camera to the cloud: 


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 10, 2016 at 8:37am

Rob, you do a lot of guessing about what PX4 can and can't do. Fortunately they have a website that lists these things, so you can inform yourself better. PX4 works great on native linux. Snapdragon and Aero are both native Linux, and I personally run it on the RaspberryPi with Navio 2.  

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