First copter flight using Linux


I'm happy to share with you today that this afternoon we had the first flight of a copter using ardupilot running in Linux (the evolution of the work performed this summer through the BeaglePilot project on the ardupilot code). It's particularly a pleasure for me to share these news because it's the result of two years trying to fly a copter running Linux (without a companion computer).

And a second one:

Setup has been done using 3DR Iris and a lot of tape (the Linux board is actually slightly bigger than the PX4 thereby there was no room inside of the hood for it).

Some remarks:

  • The autopilot was running at 100 Hz but we are working on a version that runs at 400 Hz.
  • It was using only one of the three IMUs included in the autopilot. Using the three of them might lead to a more stable result.
  • We have now the three vehicles working on Linux!
  • Take in account that i'm a horrible pilot (working on that while i write code ;) )

Future steps:

  • BeaglePilot white paper (WIP)
  • More work on the AP_HAL_Linux and the Linux kernel
  • Flight tests

Regarding the flight tests, i'd like to point out the fantastic attitude that 3DR has had with us, developers, providing all the hardware needed. Hope this serves as an inspiration for other manufacturers.

This work is the result of the effort of many. Particularly the ardupilot dev team, Siddharth Bharat Purohit, Andrew Tridgell and Philip Rowse. It's been fun to walk this path with all of them and down the road it seems there's more ;).

Special thanks to Hugo Boyer for the recordings.

NOTE: The blog post has been renamed from "APM4.0:First copter flight" to "First copter flight using Linux". Thanks for the users that suggested it.

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  • Gary, while answering your questions, for some reason your comment dissapeared. Not sure if it was me or someone else who removed it. In any case, i'm pasting it here again:

    Hi Victor,The Pixhawk Fire Cape is going to cost 236 Euros or ~ $300.00 US?And the Beagle Bone Black which is $55.00 here in the US is $100.00 from you.That does seem a bit high.Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great project which uses a very inexpensive piece of subsidized hardware.And I think you guys have really stepped up to make it actually functional - no small task with Linux.It is just a shame that the cost of the Fire Cape IMU totally erases any potential savings and will put it out of the hands of many.On the other hand, being open hardware makes it an opportunity for any who'd like to give it a try.Best Regards,Gary

  • Gary,

    The Pixhawk Fire Cape is going to cost 236 Euros or ~ $300.00 US?

    That's incorrect, the PXF will be sold for 199 €. We are still fixing some minor aspects for the sales launch, I apologize for the inconvenience. Erle-brain which is basically a BBB+PXF will be sold starting at 269 €.

    And the Beagle Bone Black which is $55.00 here in the US is $100.00 from you.

    We are willing to sell flashed BBBs for 70 € (about $ 87) but we'll provide instructions on how to set it up for anyone that wishes to do the whole process themselves (which i believe is not trivial).

    That does seem a bit high.

    Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great project which uses a very inexpensive piece of subsidized hardware.

    And I think you guys have really stepped up to make it actually functional - no small task with Linux.

    I appreciate your acknowledgement and as you point out this is open hardware so anyone can fork it and produce it themselves however in that case you'll realize that producing such a board is neither trivial, neither cheap. We are doing our bests to put them as cheap and as affordable as possible.

    We (Erle Robotics) have been fighting hard to bring up a low cost, Linux-based educational drone. With the support obtained from the purchases we will push the prices down and further improve the boards.

  • Hi Supra,

    APM 4.0 was referring to the hardware evolution. If you are interested in acquiring a board for developing in Linux, i'd suggest you subscribe here. We are almost ready.

  • Hi Victor,

    I was wondering if it is APM 4.0 version?

    I been searching websites, but no available.

  • Developer

    @mP1, the APM4 name refers to the experimental hardware, not the software. The copter was running ardupilot git master, which is currently APM:Copter 3.3-dev.

  • Software should only get a new version number when its new with significant changes not a port to new hardware.
    Android doesnt bump its version number every time its ported to a new phone/tablet or whatever.

    Every set of features/bug fixes etc should only have one version number not multiple. With multiple it makes everything confusing. Software, posts here etc will use one of the two versions and everyone will be confused.

    As Bill says, its should be 3.(insert exact minor/build/release) for BBB and PDC cape.

  • Time for Hobbyking to spin a more modern Linux board using Atom processors + the required 200Mhz 32 bit microcontroller.

  • Very cool! Congratulations. I am jealous though as I was hoping Tridge would be the first so I could photograph the first copter running Linux as well as the first plane. :-) Keep up the great work.

  • Developer

    Regarding the naming, the current thinking is that the long term successor to the Pixhawk line of autopilot hardware will be Linux based. So we had the APM1 and APM2 on AVR processors, the Pixhawk (which you could think of as APM3, at least when paired with the ArduPilot code) based on the STM32 and then the APM4 would be a Linux based ARM board.
    The PXF cape on the BeagleBoneBlack is an early prototype of that effort towards APM4. We're probably a long way from the final APM4 design, but having the PXF on BBB is a great step forwards, and it is fantastic to see it running the current copter, plane and rover code.
    Cheers, Tridge

  • Is there a more detailed blog site for this?

This reply was deleted.