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

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3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 27, 2015 at 4:40am

Broken link fixed. Sorry about that!

Comment by Jack Crossfire on March 27, 2015 at 7:51pm

Time to change the name to 3D Salesforce.

Comment by Fredia Huya-Kouadio on March 28, 2015 at 11:05am

@Daniel Nugent 3DR Services is Android deamon (backend layer) used for accessing DroneKit on Android powered devices.

Comment by Hugues on March 29, 2015 at 4:56am

The instructions "Getting started" for python, for windows are not working and have no links to the dronekit library. I am referring to this part :

Set up DroneKit

The DroneKit library is available on the public pypi repository. You can use the PyPi tool to install.

pip install droneapi-python 

The command results in a library not found by the wynpython command prompt pip command:
Can anyone advise on how to install this python dronekit library on windows ? (on correct the dronekit.io web site with correct instructions)


Comment by Kevin Hester on March 29, 2015 at 11:09am

Hi Hughes, That seems to be an error in the new documentation page the correct package to install is droneapi "pip install droneapi".  No need for the suffix of droneapi-python.

Comment by Hugues on March 30, 2015 at 5:30am

Ok thx Kevin. So If I understood it correctly, the dronekit Library is the droneapi that is packaged already in the precompiled Mavproxy for Windows ?

Comment by Hugues on March 30, 2015 at 10:14am

Another question : is there an explicit documentation of this python droneapi library and typically I am looking for a code example to read a parameter in pixhawk from a python script running on windows (and without having to use the manual mavproxy command line interface). Can you post such example ?

It would be great!

Comment by dronebohne on June 1, 2015 at 1:41pm

As all of this sounds very promising I wanted to give it a try.

But as soon as I start one of the examples (SimpleGoTo) I get the following error message.

Any suggestions how to solve this? :)

Wiki Ninja
Comment by Hamish Willee on June 1, 2015 at 4:46pm

Hi dronebohne,

Yes, re-sync with the latest master codeline for the example and try again. The example no longer uses the channel_override because that is not the recommended approach for getting off the ground. Instead it uses takeoff command. You can see the source for that that in the example page for simple_goto (see also the new Taking off guide).

Now the fact that if fails is still a potential problem. Do you have the same issue (after re-syncing) if you run the vehicle_state example (this uses channel override)?



Comment by dronebohne on June 2, 2015 at 9:55am

Hi Hamish,

Thanks for coming back to me!

It works just fine with the latest example version.

I should have checked it to be up to date. My bad.




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