Check out today's awesome demo by Tridge. An ArduRover launches an ArduPlane! (Also note that the ArduPlane is flying beta ArduPlane software on the PX4 board. We're getting close to a dev release on that. Very exciting...)

[UPDATE] Tridge adds some details in the comments:

The SkyFun was in FBWA mode, with throttle off until after it lifted off the rover (the prop was resting on the APM on the rover, so zero throttle was important!). Both the rover and skyfun were running current APM git master. The SkyFun was using a PX4FMU board running the NuttX port of ArduPlane. Today was our first test flights of ArduPlane on the PX4, and it flew very well. Flight logs from today are here

The camera was being operated by our youngest club member Marias, who just got his MAAA gold wings today.

The reason we were doing this was to test the concept for possible use for launching our X8. We've found that hand launching the X8 with a heavy load on board is quite dubious, so we've mostly been using a bungee, but we thought a rover launch would be fun. Today was a test run with the SkyFun.

We've also built a catapult system for the X8 which we have yet to test.

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3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 6, 2013 at 12:39pm

Gary: PX4 is currently in developer release and is documented in a stand-alone developer site here, which you can follow for current status. Once we are finished with the ArduCopter/Plane/Rover ports, we'll issue a public release of those and integrate it into the regular ArduCopter/Plane/Rover manuals. We'll also then release a version of PX4 that's more mainstream-ready (enclosure, simplified interfaces, etc) like APM 2.5+.  

For the time being the functionality will be the same as standard ArduCopter/Plane/Rover on APM 2.5, since they share a codebase. But since the PX4 has more memory and processing power, we'll eventually start adding new features to take advantage of that. 

This is part of our long-term roadmap of making ArduCopter/Plane/Rover available on range of hardware, from simple and relatively cheap consumer packages to higher-end autopilots for academic research and professional use. 

BTW, the standard 3DR Optical Flow board should be back in stock in a couple weeks. One of the components was end-of-life'd by the manufacturer, so we had to source an alternative. 

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on January 6, 2013 at 12:46pm

Hi Gary,

As Chris said, the initial aim was to get the current ArduCopter, ArduPlane, APMrover2 codebase as we use on APM2 on the PX4. That is what the testing yesterday was all about.

The key to all this is something called AP_HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). I'll do a blog post today about AP_HAL and what it means for APM development.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by cjmccmd on January 6, 2013 at 1:25pm

Great job!  Looking forward to the landing..  Back onto the rover!

Comment by Gordon on January 6, 2013 at 2:35pm

That's brilliant, a launch dolly that comes home by itself. What a great tool for a club to own.

Well done lads.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on January 7, 2013 at 7:50am

Yes, it is a pretty neat idea.  I think the Turnigy 1/5th scale short course truck, while obviously more expensive, will work better on a typically grass runway.  

Now, landing on the dolly, THAT would be impressive!

Comment by Gordon on January 8, 2013 at 1:51am

That just put a picture in my head.

Anybody remember the Thunderbirds episode where the plane lands on the 3 recovery vehicles, 1 master and 2 slaves.

Comment by baris alp on January 10, 2013 at 7:31am

Hi Tridge,

I dind't find what you're talking about ap_hal and apm development blog.


Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on January 10, 2013 at 7:46am

Hi All,

If you want to compile Arduplane code yourself, don't forget that you need to use this version of the Arduino IDE: to accomdate the HAL.



Comment by Tilman Baumann on January 10, 2013 at 10:24am

Sorry for the late reply. I'm interested to see how you want to port Ardupilot to PX4. Considering that there is already different software running on it.

Will Ardupilot be another NuttX application in the existing software eco-system? Or will it run bare-bones? Chris's link points to the PX4 site, which to my knowledge makes no reference to Arduino legacy code.


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