3DR announces DroneKit, a full-featured SDK for drones, mobile and cloud

We’re thrilled to announce the release of DroneKit, an open platform for drone app development. DroneKit packages years of 3DR’s flight control R&D into a single robust and extensible platform which developers can use to create web-based drone apps, or even apps onboard the drones themselves. DroneKit works with any vehicle powered by the APM flight code.

Why now

We want to empower makers anywhere to create apps that fit their purposes. Imagine an agriculture app that surveys your land; a search & rescue app; a football practice app. Before DroneKit, if you wanted to create any of these single-purpose apps for a drone you’d have to reinvent the wheel, building all the flight control software from the ground up. DroneKit abstracts away the hard parts of writing flight control software, leaving you a clean, modern interface to code on.

A good analogy is the smartphone: In order to make a smartphone app, you don’t need to design and create a phone first. The hard part (the platform, in other words) is already done. With DroneKit, we’ve made the phone, so to speak. Now everyone has the creative freedom to build apps and new functions.

“Unlike other APIs for drones, there are no levels of access to DroneKit; it’s completely flexible and open,” noted Brandon Basso, 3DR’s VP of Software Engineering. “The platform works on laptops as well as mobile devices. Best of all, once an app is created, the app automatically works on any computing platform—the interface is always the same.”

Our role is to maintain DroneKit: we created the API; we’ll fix any issues with it; we assure it works with all APM vehicles; we add experimental features from our labs and from those contributed by the global community, and we make all updates available to anyone for free. And should you develop an app, just put it up on 3DR Services, “the app store for drones,” where you can price it how you want, and we won’t take anything off the top. DroneKit is a community garden for technology; we want anyone to be able to use it to cultivate and take their product to market.

What you can do with DroneKit:

With DroneKit, you can develop apps for three platforms: mobile apps (DroneKit Android); web-based apps (DroneKit Cloud); and onboard computer apps (DroneKit Python) [i.e., for a companion computer on the actual drone].

DroneKit allows you to:

  • Fly paths with waypoints
  • Fly in spline path with fine grain control over vehicle velocity and position
  • Have the drone follow a GPS target
  • Control the camera and gimbal with regions of interest points
  • Access full telemetry from the drone over 3DR Radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or over the internet
  • View playbacks and log analysis of any mission

Advantages of DroneKit:

  • Truly open; no “levels” of access that you get from other proprietary programs
  • Computer agnostic: Create an app for controlling drones on whatever computing platform you want, and the interface is always the same
  • Works on planes, copters and rovers
  • Works on laptop computers as well as mobile devices
  • Provides web-based access to vehicle data

DroneKit powers the most successful flight control programs in the world:

  • Tower (formerly Droidplanner), hands-down the best flight planning mobile app out there, was built on DroneKit for Android
  • Droneshare, the global social network for drone pilots, is built on DroneKit web services
  • Project Tango Indoor Navigation is built on Pixhawk, APM and Tower
  • IMSI/Design TurboSite aerial reporting app for construction


Online Access

To find out how to write your own application for UAVs, and to walk through some example apps from us, please visit http://dronekit.io

Views: 4802

Comment by Flying Buddha on March 26, 2015 at 9:52am

This is awesome, thanks 3DR. I would love to see someone create an interface for creating auto landings (for planes) easier. Something similar to the eBee's interface. ;)  

Comment by Linjieqiang on March 26, 2015 at 12:08pm

good!Thanks 3DR!

Comment by Daniel Nugent on March 26, 2015 at 2:31pm

Very exciting. Can't wait to see what people develop! Is 3DR Services just for android or does it support companion computer and web applications?

Comment by Flying Buddha on March 26, 2015 at 2:40pm

I havent had a chance to play around with yet, but they have documentation for a REST api and Python, with iOS "coming soon"

Comment by Kyomo Jung on March 26, 2015 at 5:33pm

Too excited to wait for Dronekit powered applications !!!

Comment by Greg Dronsky on March 26, 2015 at 6:38pm

great news, waiting for iOS!

Comment by Harry on March 26, 2015 at 7:12pm

Man, this place is blinding me.  Looks like I will advance or die like a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit.

Comment by HyperGuy on March 26, 2015 at 7:25pm

Geez people just rolled their eyes when I suggested this a while back. Good on ya 3DR for actually doing this.

Comment by Todd Harper on March 26, 2015 at 7:27pm

Looking forward to see what new cool things and ideas this brings about.

Comment by Ian Sun on March 27, 2015 at 12:43am

Awesome! I saw many tutorials on how to run code on simulators. I'm also looking forward to some instructions on how to run the code on a drone such as IRIS+.


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