The ArduPilot development team is proud to announce the release of the first beta version of the 3.5.0 release of APM:Plane. We think this is going to be a great release and we'd love some feedback before we do the final version.
The biggest changes in this release are:
New Kalman Filter
The 3.4 release series was the first where APM:Plane used a Kalman Filter by default for attitude and position estimation. It works very well, but Paul Riseborough has been working hard recently on a new EKF variant which fixes many issues seen with the old estimator. The key improvements are:
After extensive testing of the new EKF code we decided to make it the default for this release. You can still use the old EKF if you want to by setting AHRS_EKF_TYPE to 1, although it is recommended that the new EKF be used for all aircraft.
This is the first release with support for parachute landings on plane. The configuration and use of a parachute is the same as the existing copter parachute support. See http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/parachute/
Note that parachute support is considered experimental in planes.
This release includes support for hybrid plane/multi-rotors called QuadPlanes. More details are available in this blog post: http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/quadplane-support-in-apm-plane-...
Support for 3 new Flight Boards
The porting of ArduPilot to more flight boards continues, with support for 3 new flight boards in this release. They are:
More information about the list of supported boards is available here: http://dev.ardupilot.com/wiki/supported-autopilot-controller-boards/
Startup on a moving platform
One of the benefits of the new EKF2 estimator is that it allows for rapid estimation of gyro offset without doing a gyro calibration on startup. This makes it possible to startup and arm on a moving platform by setting the INS_GYR_CAL parameter to zero (to disable gyro calibration on boot). This should be a big help when flying off boats.
That is just a taste of all of the improvements in this release. In total the release includes over 1500 patches. Some of the other more significant changes include:
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this release! The development team is growing at a fast pace, with 57 people contributing changes over this release cycle.
I'd like to make special mention of Tom Pittenger and Michael du Breuil who have been doing extensive testing of the plane development code, and also contributing a great deal of their own improvements. Thanks!