why modifications on open source

I’m a hobbyist in Pixhawk. I use Pixhawk auto mode to fly my RC model airplanes quite well. They could follow the flight path very stably and precisely after I carefully tuned the parameters. My fixed wings with Pixhawk almost could do everything I would like it to do automatically. From my limited experience, Pixhawk's fixed wing performance is excellent and nothing once got wrong.


Recently I noticed that there are some small size fixed wing drone companies hiring autopilot engineers. The hiring advertisements require C++/Fortune programming and Matlab/Simulink skills as well as flight auto control algorithm knowledge. Education background in autopilot is preferred.


As far as I know, a lot of fixed wing drone companies (more than 50%?) develop their ‘own’ autopilot based on open source autopilot, e.g. pixhawk.

I can understand that it could be beneficial for big company to do modifications on the open source existing algorithm. They could even want to select hardware for their products by themselves.

But I’m confused about why fixed wing drone small companies hire autopilot engineers with those skills requirements as stated above as well. It seems that hobbyist can use Pixhawk to fly most of fixed wings quite well without the need to have that much specialized skills. Could anyone explain this to me?

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  • 3D Robotics

    They may want to develop custom mission control algorithms for specialized commercial applications. For that, they would typically use the DroneKit SDK, rather than modifying the Pixhawk source code itself. 

    DroneKit makes it easy to create custom applications to control any vehicle powered by MAVLink. Best of all, it is open sourced and free for everyone…
    • What do you mean by 'specialized commercial application'? 

      Is that to develop a ground station software program or interface that can let user set up one kind of special missions more conveniently?

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