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.

Views: 11202

Comment by Víctor Mayoral on September 4, 2014 at 7:53am

Bill, fair enough :), changed it. Thanks everyone for the suggestion.

Comment by Hugues on September 4, 2014 at 9:12am

We do not deserve the thank you, You do !

Comment by Gary McCray on September 4, 2014 at 11:34am

Great Job Victor,

I believe your dedication and hard work have greatly sped up the whole process.

We will all now soon be able to benefit from Linux / Beagle Bone autopilots.

Thank You Very Much,


Good illustration of Iris durability too, a lot like my flying technique.

Comment by Tobias Simon on September 4, 2014 at 12:59pm

Very good, Victor! :-)

Comment by Nikola Rabchevsky on September 4, 2014 at 3:08pm

Is there a more detailed blog site for this?

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on September 4, 2014 at 4:21pm

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

Comment by Darrell Burkey on September 4, 2014 at 8:17pm

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.

Comment by Jack Crossfire on September 5, 2014 at 1:50am

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

Comment by mP1 on September 5, 2014 at 4:16am

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.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on September 5, 2014 at 2:30pm

@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.


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