The ArduPilot core development team is starting on a new phase in the project's development. We’ve been having a lot of discussions lately about how to become better organised and better meet the needs of both our great user community and the increasing number of organisations using ArduPilot professionally. The dev team is passionate about making the best autopilot software we can and we are putting the structures in place to make that happen.

Those of you who have been following the developments over the years know that ArduPilot has enjoyed a very close relationship with 3DRobotics for a long time, including a lot of direct funding of ArduPilot developers by 3DR. As 3DR changes its focus that relationship has changed, and the relationship now is not one of financial support for developers but instead 3DR will be one of many companies contributing to open source development both in ArduPilot and the wider DroneCode community. The reduction in direct funding by 3DR is not really too surprising as the level of financial support in the past was quite unusual by open source project standards.

Meanwhile the number of other individuals and companies directly supporting ArduPilot development has been increasing a lot recently, with over 130 separate people contributing to the code in the last year alone, and the range of companies making autopilot hardware and airframes aimed at ArduPilot users has also grown enormously.

We’re really delighted with how the developer community is working together, and we’re very confident that ArduPilot has a very bright future

Creation of ArduPilot non-profit

The ArduPilot dev team is creating a non-profit entity to act as a focal point for ArduPilot development. It will take a while to get this setup, but the aim is to have a governance body that aims to guide the direction the project takes and ensure the project meets the needs of the very diverse user community. Once the organisation is in place we will make another announcement, but you can expect it to be modelled on the many successful open source non-profits that exist across the free software community.

The non-profit organisation will oversee the management of the documentation, the auto-build and test servers and will help set priorities for future development.

We’re working with 3DR now to organise the transfer of the domain to the development team leads, and will transfer it to the non-profit once that is established. The dev team has always led the administration of that site, so this is mostly a formality, but we are also planning on a re-work of the documentation to create an improved experience for the community and to make it easier to maintain.

Expansion of ArduPilot consulting businesses

In addition to the non-profit, we think there is a need for more consulting services around ArduPilot and DroneCode. We’ve recognised this need for a while as the developers have often received requests for commercial support and consulting services. That is why we created this commercial support list on the website last year:

It is time to take that to the next level by promoting a wider range of consulting services for ArduPilot. As part of that a group of the ArduPilot developers are in the process of creating a company that will provide a broad range of consulting services around ArduPilot. You will see some more announcements about this soon and we think this will really help ArduPIlot expand into places that are hard to get to now. We are delighted at this development, and hope these  companies listed on the website will provide a vibrant commercial support ecosystem for the benefit of the entire ArduPilot community.

Best of both worlds

We think that having a non-profit to steer the project while having consulting businesses to support those who need commercial support provides the best of both worlds. The non-profit ArduPilot project and the consulting businesses will be separate entities, but the close personal and professional relationships that have built up in the family of ArduPilot developers will help both to support each other.

Note that ArduPilot is committed to open source and free software principles, and there will be no reduction in features or attempt to limit the open source project. ArduPilot is free and always will be. We care just as much about the hobbyist users as we do about supporting commercial use. We just want to make a great autopilot while providing good service to all users, whether commercial or hobbyist.

Thank you!

We’d also like to say a huge thank you to all the ArduPilot users and developers that have allowed ArduPilot to develop so much in recent years. We’ve come a very long way and we’re really proud of what we have built.

Finally we’d also like to thank all the hardware makers that support ArduPilot. The huge range of hardware available to our users from so many companies is fantastic, and we want to make it easier for our users to find the right hardware for their needs. We will continue working to improve the documentation to make that easier.

Happy flying!

The ArduPilot Dev Team

Views: 92465

Comment by Jani Hirvinen on February 27, 2016 at 12:14am

Great post Tridge.

It's a great continuity for the work that has been done on past 6 years. Achievements during that time has been amazing and it will continue to be so.

On behalf of jDrones and my self. We are highly devoted to continue on the work we started while original ArduCopter and many others was created. This change is highly appreciated.

Jani Hirvinen / jDrones

Former ArduCopter Lead

Member of core development team

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on February 27, 2016 at 12:20am

Thanks Jani, both for all the support you've given so far and for your kind offer to help us setup the next generation of discussion forum for ArduPilot, plus your help with the DroneCode TSC forum

My first flying robot was the quad you sent me back in 2011. It is still in my study, although it hasn't flown for a while :-)

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on February 27, 2016 at 12:21am

I wonder if anyone will be able to work out all the names of the vehicles, electronics and projects in the photo collage?

Comment by Tom Pittenger on February 27, 2016 at 12:41am
I'm really happy with all that is happening with ardupilot and will enjoy developing on it for years to come. I might be biased, but I think this is the best open source auto pilot on the planet.
Comment by Jiro Hattori on February 27, 2016 at 12:43am
Congratulations to Andrew and all development team. Looking forward to see next step of ArduPilot.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on February 27, 2016 at 12:44am

thanks Tom! no argument from me, especially now that we can land planes backwards as well as forwards :-)

Comment by Roberto Navoni on February 27, 2016 at 12:53am

Me too is ready for the next step as the other member of the DEV Team :) 

My support at begin was in the port of Ardupilot to 32 bit platform when the master code was only for 8 bit micro processor :)

Thanks to all the Dev Team for the work done until now ...

Comment by Marco Robustini on February 27, 2016 at 2:06am

Go go go!!!
We continue to write this beautiful story...

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on February 27, 2016 at 2:27am

@Roberto and @Marco, thank guys! I really appreciate your support

Comment by JB on February 27, 2016 at 3:21am

Hey Dev team great work! Good post!

I've been waiting for an announcement for a while now so that we can all know what the future plans are with Ardupilot. I'm really happy to see that the dev. team is rallying together to continue this awesome work and I think all the challenges so far will result in a stronger and better open source community structure.

I'd like to offer my support wherever it helps, even though I'm not a part of the development team. In particular I'd like to be involved in SAR type development work, and as a group we're interested in establishing an Australian non-for profit SAR organisation for that cause.

In regards to the new organisations that are being structured, may I ask in what jurisdictions these will be incorporated in? Are they U.S, Australian etc? Thx

As for the names of the pictures in the collage I've seen both Joe personally, and the wifi dish on a VW van somewhere before. ;-)


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