The ArduPilot Project

The ArduPilot project is a family of open source autopilots based on the Arduino open source computing platform. It consists of a choice of ArduPilot Mega (APM) electronics and a range of free software versions for different vehicles

APM 2.6 is a pro-quality IMU autopilot based on the Arduino Mega platform, which can turn any RC vehicle into a fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial (or Ground) Vehicle. Depending on which software you choose, it can fly fixed-wing aircraft, multicopters, helicopters, and control ground rovers and boats. It handles both autonomous stabilization and GPS navigation and allows fully scripted waypoint missions and camera control. It supports 8 RC channels, has four serial ports and features an all-in design.

You can buy APM 2.5 for $159 ($240 with advanced GPS module) here. Everything else you need for a complete autopilot (flight software and desktop utility software) is free!


Features include:

  • Free open source firmware supports planes, multicopters (quads, hex, oct, etc), helicopters and ground rovers!
  • Simple setup process and firmware loading via a point-and-click utility. No programming required! (But if you do want to fiddle with the code, you can with the easiest embedded programming toolkit available: Arduino)
  • Full mission scripting with point-and-click desktop utilities
  • Can support hundreds of 3D waypoints
  • Two-way telemetry and in-flight command using the powerful MAVLink protocol
  • Choice of free Ground Stations, including the state-of-the-art Mission Planner which includes mission planning, in-air parameter setting, on-board video display, voice synthesis, and full datalogging with replay.
  • Autonomous takeoff, landing and special action commands such as video and camera controls
  • Supports full "hardware-in-the-loop" simulation with Xplane and Flight Gear

Hardware includes the following:

  • 3-axis gyros
  • 3-axis accelerometers
  • 3-axis magnetometer
  • Barometric pressure sensor for altitude
  • 5 or 10Hz GPS module
  • 4 Mb of onboard datalogging memory. Missions are automatically datalogged and can be exported to KML
  • Built-in hardware failsafe processor, can return-to-launch on radio loss.
  • (Optional) Airspeed sensor
  • (Optional) Current sensor
  • (Optional) 2-way telemetry


Last updated by Chris Anderson Jul 20, 2013.


Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
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