ArduPilot and DroneCode part ways


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

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • 3D Robotics

    @Marc: Sadly, I can't see another outcome. GPL v3 code is being banned throughout the tech industry -- I don't know any software company that will touch it anymore. Only the Chinese manufacturers will use it, and that's because they typically don't respect the licence and distribute their code as required.  

  • @Chris. Is this the best outcome? Explain why both projects could not exist within Dronecode? You are not winning the hearts and minds battle here. A few million is a pittance to support a GPL v3 project that can be used to feed into a more commercially friendly project, i.e. PX4. This is already happening anyway. These financial obligations may have been a big deal for 3DR but it is nothing for some of these Platinum members. Intel could write that check tomorrow from their petty cash account.

    If this is all going, or has gone, South due to personal control issues then it is a bit silly. I speak only as an observer. I do not know what the feelings of Ardu devs are btw. Only speaking as an observer. Maybe even now this could be rethought.
  • Glad to see the separation between open source and commercial interest.

  • Gary, all of those names are going with Ardupilot, and not staying with Dronecode.

  • Hi Chris, or anybody else for that matter,

    Can you tell us exactly who is now no longer Dronecode and who is now part of Ardupilot?

    Tridge clearly out in Dronecode and mainstay of ArduPilot, but not so sure about anybody else, conflicting information has been presented and would like specifically to know about Tom Pittenger, Jaime Machuca, Philip Rowse, Randy, Craig, as well as any others affected.

    Several names are still on the Dronecode governance list that no longer seem to be actually part of Dronecode.

    Best regards,


  • Cheers to the ArduPilot team for staying true to their mission. The technology fabric of the open-source UAV community is better for it. Viva ArduPilot!

  • Moderator

    @Chris A.

    I follow the evolution of situation in last 2 years and follow some situation happen in california in some big company like Google, Intel , Qualcomm and what happen to 3DR. 

    I totally disagree about the decision in dronecode to support PX4 project instead of original ardupilot project.

    The Drone Code idea born around ardupilot and not around PX4 . But the problem is not PX4 vs Ardupilot the problem is that PX4 don't exist as number , user and support before the introduction of Drone Code foundation in the loop of our community.

    So the problem could be the BSD licence vs GPLV3 licence ? Some big company ask to support in drone code only project with BSD licence ? Could be good if someone reply me about this iusse . Ardupilot is a kernel of our drone so as Kernel of Linux is GPL Ardupilot is GPL where is the problem ...  I never seen a drone that use PX4 stack flight well like Ardupilot based drone so don't undertand the decision inside the Drone Code. 

    So at this point i totally agree with indipendence of Ardupilot respect of Drone Code because at this point we don't have any kind of advantages to join to drone code fondation and like me a lot of othre silver member .

    The distribution of official PX4 stack what is it ? And what vendor support it ? Where is the roadmap  Is not clear at this moment. 

    So about the Pixhawk / PX4 hardware and ardupilot i don't see any kind of problem a lot of different original platform support it very well . My board VR Brain was the first 32 bit board in the story of Ardupilot and still exist and evolve indipendently of Pixhawk and PX4 hardware that was invent and produced 1 years after the first revision of VRBrain going into market. 

    The future of Ardupilot will be great ... i have a lot of doubt instead about PX4 without the support of our community. 

    So Chris could be better to solve this problem for optimize the work of developer and don't try to bring user from arducopter and try to ask to use PX4 without any reason.

    We start the adventure on arducopter togheter and now we lose only you all the original founder would continue with this great project. So what's happen in last year Why you dislike our great project now ? Is not clear .... I don't understand. 



  • 3D Robotics

    Thanks, Marc. I appreciate it. 

  • @Chris -- I never saw your reply and I would never ignore you. Sorry. My point is dulled with that knowledge for sure--although it may not have been optimal scheduling. I had not appreciated that.

    Incidentally, I understand where you are going and am not offended by anyone building shareholder value -- for reasons articulated by others I cannot see the community following though in the same way that they have, or participating in the same way. But best of luck anyway. I have said my piece.

  • 3D Robotics

    Marc: Perhaps you're not reading my replies, so I'll repeat my answer from the last time you made the same assertion:

    "@Marc: I hope you can see that you're being spun. That board meeting was in the middle of the day US time (where all but three board members are) and at the end of the day Europe time (where another was). It was only 4:00am in Australia.  If you can find a time that isn't in the middle of the night somewhere in the world, my hat's off to you."

This reply was deleted.