3D Robotics

APM: the Universal Autopilot


I just had to a share a bit of pride that I got checking out the latest release (1.1.11) of the Mission Planner. Look at all those vehicles APM now supports!!! To say nothing of all the hardware-in-the-loop simulations at the bottom left of that screen. And ArduRoverArduBoat, and coming soon, ArduBlimp (successor to Blimpduino) and ArduTank (!).

I think we just need to add ArduSub and ArduRocket and we've got the entire world of vehicles covered. Not bad for $200 ;-)

This why we call APM the Universal Autopilot. As far as I know, this sort of one-autopilot-does-everything has never been accomplished before. So proud of the dev teams!

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  • T3

    Hi Chris,

    You certainly should be proud of APM, and I agree with you that its the first one-autopilot-does-everything. But I would like to point out that there are several types of vehicles that I have personally applied the UAVDevBoard to:

    1. Autonomous rover. (It was my first research vehicle, around 6 years ago.)

    2. Every type of fixed wing model aircraft.

    3. A real sailboat.

    4. A homemade Segway.

    5. Large model rockets.  I am talking about the sort of model rockets that develop on the order of 10,000 pounds thrust. This one created a spin-off product, the Rocket Tiltometer, which is presently produced and sold by Frank Hermes. Frank's device won this year's high power rocketry technology achievement award. Check out the link, it includes a picture of a 1/10 scale model of a Saturn 1B.

    So, I think you will need to support rockets and two wheeled inverted pendulums before you can make the claim that you have a universal autopilot.

    Also, I think you should support launches of fixed wing aircraft from high altitude balloons. There are some special challenges.

    Best regards,

    Bill Premerlani

  • The ArduSub idea really appeals to me.  A group I worked with recently on a port construction project looked at ROV subs to monitor various underwater structures. I did a some of the research and found a few very interesting bits of  kit out there, also expensive.  I'm sure the APM board could be adapted to operate  a small sub.  Underwater navigation is tricky without GPS but there are several schemes that work.  Some use bottom tracking for distance measuring and speed (doppler sonar) with gyros and a compass for direction, these are calibrated with a GPS when the unit is on surface making a straight run before submerging. The big challenges would be making it all water tight and ballast control. 

  • With all those vehicles on land sea and air, I think someone needs to make a DIYDrones version of Thunderbirds!
  • Anish, that Baja electric conversion kit looks pretty awesome!  I had no idea those existed.  One more thing to add to my wish list, I guess. I have been telling people that I think I could add an APM to a 3L water rocket and make it "hover" if my idea for a makerbot-printed throttle and thrust vector system actually works (it's a long shot).  For a waterless option, I've also been talking about making a "pseudo-rocket" that uses ducted fans as fake strap-on booster rockets - so it would sort of be a really tall, skinny, quadcopter with all of the rotors spinning the same direction.  That way I could have it ascend with a thrust-to-weight ratio that matches full-size rockets.  Maybe the ArduSub could have a GPS on top of its periscope?

  • 3D Robotics

    Dennis: Of course! (But you'll have to do a bit of coding.)

  • I'm curious, is it possible to build a Avatar-like helicopter with 2 (movable?) rotors and use APM for it?

  • As the plan was intended this just keeps getting better and better.

  • ArduSub is a loooong way off. No GPS underwater, and no inexpensive odometer solutions. Mems gyros are getting close, but still not as good as laser ring gyros. 

    Though if there are breakthroughs in sensor tech, I'd love to help the dev teams. I work for the Navy with robo-subs and other vehicles. 

  • I think there should be a rc car the has an apm,but the rims on the car double as turbines the wheels can move up and create downward force. So you could go off a jump and transform into a quadcopter thing

    It could be call arduformer

  • The DYI adventure is definitaly more and more exciting.


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