For the attention of the users, supporters, fans and corporate users of ArduPilot:
The ArduPilot project is going through a transition. We will no longer be associated with DroneCode and instead will be focused directly on the needs of our users, contributors and partners.
We had high hopes for DroneCode as a collaborative project. DroneCode was born out of the ArduPilot project and we led the technical collaboration since its inception nearly two years ago. As part of that collaboration we welcomed and nurtured close ties with the PX4 project and worked closely with a number of corporate partners.
Unfortunately DroneCode has a built-in flaw. The structure and bylaws of DroneCode are built around exceptional power for the Platinum members, giving them extraordinary control over the future of DroneCode. This is a fundamental flaw in a project meant to promote free and open source software as it means that the business interests of a very small number of members can override the interests of the rest of the members and the community.
Just how great a flaw that is has been shown by the actions of the Platinum members over the last two months. Due to their overwhelming desire to be able to make a proprietary autopilot stack the Platinum members staged what can only be called a coup. They removed all top level open source projects from DroneCode, leaving only their own nominees in the Technical Steering Committee. They passed a resolution requiring that all projects hand over control of all trademarks, accounts and domains to their control.
The PX4 project leadership decided to accept this, and will be handing over control of the PX4 project in order to remain in DroneCode. The ArduPilot project won’t be doing this, as we firmly believe that community directed development is the best way to create a long-term sustainable free software autopilot stack. That means we are not willing to hand control of our domains, trademarks and development accounts to DroneCode, and by extension to the Platinum members. We believe that giving the Platinum members that degree of control over the future of ArduPilot would be irresponsible. ArduPilot is a community project, and its future direction must be set by the community.
We did not want this outcome, and neither did the Silver members (represented by all 3 elected Dronecode board members). We wanted to continue to collaborate, but the actions of the Platinum members and the choice made by the PX4 project means that DroneCode is no longer a place where community directed collaboration is welcome.
There is one aspect of DroneCode which we will miss. It offered a forum where we could work with the many companies that use ArduPilot to help their businesses make the most of ArduPilot.
To allow us to continue to have that relationship and improve upon the flawed DroneCode model we have made the decision to accept partners to the ArduPilot project. These partners will have their logo displayed on our new homepage (unveiled today; visit us at www.ardupilot.org33) and we will work closely with them to build a strong relationship for the benefit of both their businesses and the ArduPilot project.
We will have a monthly meeting between the ArduPilot development team and partners where we will discuss the future direction of ArduPilot and work together on issues that are important to our partners.
More information on becoming an ArduPilot partner is available here:
We also welcome individual contributions, with donations welcome from all users. The most important contributions, however, are those made by the hundreds of people in our vibrant community who have contributed code, documentation, code reviews and support for our users.
The ArduPilot development team would like to thank all our users, contributors and partners for their support, and we look forward to continuing the development of the autopilot that this community loves.
The ArduPilot Dev Team
@Chris: "Instead, control should be held by a non-profit with an open governance structure."
Did you schedule 4AM meetings to try to get things voted through? Is this in the spirit of Open Governance structure? Just call a spade a spade. I do think people can respect that your direction is creating shareholder value and your actions were in accordance with this--that is not a crime yet. I would say your open source Goose may be a bit cooked though. The community is going to want to move over to Ardupilot. Dronecode just delayed Ardupilot doing what they should have done a while back -- sort out a way of getting minimum funding required to support their endeavors.
If you can amass another advanced hobbyist community around PX4 and offer it free to hobbyists then I am sure they will come. I just cannot see high-end intellect wanting to be co-opted into this effort to serve extremely wealthy corporations with a flight stack they can use as a starting point for their efforts. It is just not what educated, clever people want to do with their free time.
The first part kinda makes sense except that open-source can never truly disappear. Once you have a fork it will never go away, and nobody can force code or license changes to your fork.
The second part, is that irony? The latest actions of DroneCode has been nothing but profit driven and closed. And most definitively not in the interest of the community.
ArduPilot is not going anywhere and is by far the best autopilot code base out there. Ardupilot.org is on its two feet and the developers had anticipated and planned for these actions of DC for a long time coming. People seem to be under the impression that 3DR and/or Chris Anderson created ArduPilot. In fact, ArduPilot and its developers are the foundation for 3DR's rise to a credible position in the market and the foundation for Dronecodes existence.
My small company, Falcon Unmanned, has no intention of moving away from ArduPilot. Why? I fully expect that each of the platinum members will fork private versions of the PX4 flight stack and not provide contributions back to the community leaving the public "open" version to die on the vine. The first casualties of this will be the hobbyist and small companies who build their systems/business on this license concept. Only the largest of the large corporations who can maintain a fleet of engineers and developers to maintain their private version have a chance to succeed on this business model. Unless you are a mega corporation who can afford a staff of engineers and developers I'd advise any company, organization, or hobbyist to steer clear of this association.
In the meantime ArduPilot will remain open for the world to use as well as for anyone to provide contributions.
Chris Miser, Owner, Falcon Unmanned, A Proud Partner of ArduPilot
One thing I do agree with here is that we do need a new Hardware platform, possibly not something radically different, but something not named PX4 or Pix anything.
The ArduPilot software development was always preeminent and original, PX4 software development in many ways simply parroted the ArduPilot development that had already taken place (although I am sure Lorenz would deny that and you could get into a huge chicken or egg fight).
Nonetheless, the Ardupilot group needs a new improved flight controller that is definitely not a PX4 or Pix anything.
Probably worthwhile to build in the advanced flight control co-computer (TX1 would be a good start), it's the most powerful thing around lately and Intel doesn't make it.)
Don't know if that's the direction you want to go, but we really will need something with a different identity.
Just my 2 cents.
This issue actually erupted in the previous article on Site Scan by Chris which has now sunk off the landing page.
I just wanted to make sure everybody got this side of it as represented by the Silver Members of the Dronecode team.
This link was in a comment originally bought by Olivier on that Blog post.
But I think it is very important for you to see that post in order to get additional perspective on this.
It is also probably worthwhile to look at the last 4 or 5 pages of the Site Scan post.
As far as I'm concerned, this "coup" was inevitable the moment years ago when 3DR invited the venture capital "Sharks" into the room.
I've been with a bunch of small tech startups over the years and have watched the same thing happen time after time.
They value owned, exploitable intellectual property, not open source.
Money always trumps everything else.
I am disappointed in Chris and Lorenz for their roles in this, as for Intel and Qualcom, no surprises there.
Please take a look at those two links it will considerably add perspective to this.
@Chris: "Companies won't adopt open source software if the core code can just disappear at the whim of a single person"
What do you mean?
Also, likening the "new" DroneCode foundation (with Ardupilot booted out,) with the Linux foundation only goes so far. Linux is GPL v2. PX4 is BSD ...
@Olliw "IMHO ArduPilot desperately needs its "own" flight control hardware, i.e. at least one piece of something which folks can associate to them and not to some other project(s), something with no "pix" in it's name ..."
The "Pix" in Pixhawk2 may not survive anyways, with PX4 trademarks now controlled by DroneCode ...
I also understand that 3DR is also about to release a second generation, mini Pixhawk. Should be interesting.
@John Arne: "But how can they ever expect to gain fresh blood in the form of other projects with this in effect?"
Speculation on my part, but I suspect they don't. Maybe a few additional Platinum members, if that, although Intel, Qualcomm and 3DR with Yuneec Silver, is already plenty. It also seems that most of the DroneCode site content, which after all was started by the Ardupilot team, was written with a different philosophy in mind that no longer applies.
@Olli -- you are 100% correct here. People have to accept these realities. The mag calibration situation in Ardupilot is just unacceptable BTW. A fiasco that people cannot seem to solve.
GPL hardware is probably a bad, bad idea for long-term health. Ardupilot can determine the hardware they fully support, set the design parameters for the hardware etc, and get paid for their efforts to support hardware. Design files need to stay with the hardware vendor that kicks back some of their sale to the project.
And while you are at it why not have the apps that set up and run ground stations for Ardupilot also sold through iOS and Google play, with some proceeds to Ardupilot.
Dronecode was not the answer, clearly!! I do not believe, seriously, that consulting gigs for Ardu devs is really the primary answer either. That will just create a closed club that will eventually create resentment.
John Arne: That quote is incorrect -- of course that requirement would be ridiculous for all Dronecode project. It is only a requirement for a "top-level" project, which is the basis of the distro. The vast majority of Dronecode projects are not top-level and those are not affected.
BTW, all Linux Foundation projects have worked this way for years. It's standard operating procedure for industry consortia. Companies won't adopt open source software if the core code can just disappear at the whim of a single person. Instead, control should be held by a non-profit with an open governance structure.