An Interview with Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics

I have a little blog about my experiences with quadcopters called OddCopter.com. I have been so impressed by the recent feature enhancements and popularity of the APM2.5+ platform that I wanted to track down Chris Anderson and see if he would do an interview for my blog. He graciously accepted and here are the results:

An Interview with Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics

I think the interview turned out great and contains some really interesting stuff. Please check it out if you get a chance.

I am fairly new to the DIYDrones community. I have only used the ArduCopter software via the MegaPiratesNG port running on a MultiWii Pro Board. I have a Naza, and when I had tried various open source projects in the past, the altitude hold feature didn't seem to measure up, However, I noticed the recent iterations MegaPiratesNG had huge improvements in Altitude Hold. I also setup and flew a few missions a while back. It was a little scary for me, but it worked great. This has gotten my really excited about getting the real thing and giving it a try! 

Britt

Views: 1927

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 22, 2013 at 8:54pm

I assume "Autopilot" means "AutoQuad"?

As for the stats on commits, that must be only for post-Github commits.  When we moved to github, a lot of history appears to be lost and I think all the commit history was lost.

But there is some truth in that stat anyway.  I have a few commits waiting to be pulled in, but I don't know about anybody else.  I've mostly been doing work on my own stuff lately.

Comment by J on February 22, 2013 at 8:58pm

@Britt

This one is essentially an early Revo as I understand it  http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1833030   It's begging for a review--$100 or so, maybe they will give you one.

I'm speaking of the PX4 software, not the hardware. 3DR is re-flashing the existing software with something else. I meant Autoquad, not Autopilot.

Comment by J on February 22, 2013 at 9:24pm

What's up with Openpilot? Looks like a perfect alternative, but it's not clear to me if the Revo's been super delayed for the stated reason--to make sure it works super good before releasing, if it's just more of a resources issue or something. The guys making the Quantec seem both well intentions & not, I can't tell.

Comment by Britt on February 22, 2013 at 9:30pm

@J

Ah, AutoQuad. Have you tried one? I have. At €399.00 and with a very complex setup and calibration process, I don't see how you can compare it to the APM2.5+. I am not knocking it. I think it is an interesting FC, but not a mainstream product at this point. I just looked it up on Viacopter where it is still sold as a "Public Beta".

http://viacopter.eu/shop/flight-controllers/8

Comment by J on February 22, 2013 at 9:58pm

I'd like to--I'm still torn between the PX4 & that one. I'm guessing that the Zurich team will eventually port over the Autoquad filter to their code and add their hardware acceleration goodness to bring down his 60% CPU usage a little.

To me the calibration is a feature & not a bug. I totally buy into what he's saying here:

http://autoquad.org/wiki/wiki/autoquad-calibrations/

This is a great observation, & he's right for going in this direction. In fact the care & instruction that has been put into the calibration process would be the primary reason for choosing this over the PX4. Likely some of this will go away & become automated due to the nature of the filtering algorithm he uses.  I like the PX4 code better, with NuttX & all, it's very cool.

The Autoquad code is tight in all the important places, & is appropriate for a couple of developers, but I'm very much attached to the idea of moving to a real OS for future extensions & bigger open source collaborations. Hardware guys will waste years re-learning what OS & software guys already know if they don't take the leap & stop taking baby steps. That said these guys have done more with these little chips than anything I've seen in the Linux world with much faster hardware. It's a culture gap, & in the end the hardware guys experience in the real world wins hands down for better or for worse.

As for comparing Autoquad to APM2.5, you're correct there's no comparison. The Autoquad blows it out of the water. The price is appropriate--I doubt the $10k systems are running UKF on an STM32F4. For the price & time one puts into these systems it's worth it to me to pay a few hundred bucks to get the best one. The mainstream versus beta comparison doesn't mean much to me. I bought an APM2.5 in beta, it just wasn't called beta. That's just plain nasty.  I don't have to go around guessing what the Autoquad & PX4 guys are really making versus what they say they making, & that is much more important to me for something as sophisticated as an autopilot.

Comment by sergei lupashin on February 23, 2013 at 5:26am

@Britt, FYI, "ETH Zurich" and "University of Zurich" are two completely separate entities. The PX4 was developed at ETH Zurich (www.ethz.ch) -- see, in fact, the address of the pixhawk website: https://pixhawk.ethz.ch/

Interesting interview, though, thanks!

Comment by Jethro Hazelhurst on February 23, 2013 at 6:39am

Great interview, thanks!

Comment by Britt on February 23, 2013 at 8:07am

@Sergei 

Thanks. I must have misquoted him. I will take that out.

Comment by J on February 23, 2013 at 12:27pm

@Jethro  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ToACDIXTzo0  

This made me laugh--I know just how it feels... I'll have to take back any smack talkin' I might have laid on the  cambots.

Comment by Michael on February 23, 2013 at 4:15pm

When you move to autonomous flight, one of our cool features is that we interface with something called Mavelous. It uses our telemetry stream and it displays an html map and ground station in a browser, even an iPad or a phone browser.

I may be wrong, but do you thing mavelous was meant to be MavLink?

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