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

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  • @Rob. My thoughts too, but I was hoping Chris would clarify further. Yes, not a chance. Besides the impossibility of prying source  from personal servers like yours, mine, and tons of others, the very idea of disappearing GPL code is completely incompatible with the very intent of GPL in the first place, V3 even more than V2.

    In general I find DroneCode's position, and the official wording for the justification of its position, awkward if not misleading. Another example of this is Chris's use of the work "fork" ("There was, however, disagreement within the Dronecode projects on this, both in vision and leadership. The result is that we are forking Dronecode."

    But this was not a fork at all, which whether in the context of the traditional Unix system call or for source tree management purposes essentially means creating a copy of a process (source tree, respectively), the two then *co-existing* yet  going their own way. In this case there's is no co-existence within DroneCode, Ardupilot was pruned out and plain booted off..

    I also have a difficult time with "The majority of participants in the ecosystem, not just current Dronecodemembers but also commercial adopters who would like to become Dronecodemembers in the future, want a simple to install and use Dronecode distribution based on PX4."  Not sure what "ecosystem" is being referenced here, but it certainly is not the entire ecosystem we typically think about, that includes small businesses, contractors, consultants, DIYers, researchers, etc ...

    I can certainly understand that companies like Qualcomm and Intel would want one single distro and PX4 insofar as it's BSD and a better option for them. Ditto 3DR, although good luck now porting Solo code to PX4. But wasn't co-existence a better option? Especially given 3DR's now very awkward position, with Solo still running Ardupilot. (And some on the Ardupilot dev team now actually porting Ardupilot master to Solo!). Surely there were many negotiating options, including letting DroneCode sponsors chose what specific project they'd like to fund?

    In any case, water down the bridge now. Best of luck to both DroneCode/PX4 and Ardupilot.

  • Hi Biil,

    Philip Rowse, (Ex one of the lead developers for 3DR) has in his own Company ProfiCNC been developing an upgraded replacement for the Pixhawk since it is no longer available.

    It should be a great platform but at this point I would consider starting a new naming convention unrelated to PX4 and Pixhawk.

    Just a thought, sadly, I think ArduPilot needs to divorce itself from all thing Lorenz Meier, reasons obvious.

    Best Regards,


  • I had completely missed this, but it appears to be relevant to what is being discussed here.

    What is Pixhawk 2?

  • I have been unable to get Google to find issues with the tech industry and GPL v3. I can find older references to Google being fine with GPL v3. Can someone educate us further. I think the real players that will be making money from UAVs will be those in the big data side go things as the cloud services are where the $$ will be.
  • @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?

    Pure FUD campaign.  You could never kill Ardupilot.  You could delete the main repo, but it would remain in the 1000's of slones in existence.  Little old me has one...  Everybody and their dog has one.

    This is like North Korea thinking they could prevent The Interview from getting out.

  • @Gary surely you could have slipped in a reference to the Mead Hall of Heorot and Grendel's mother as well.
  • Hi Ernst,

    After reading your post I feel like I have just been dragged to the back of the cave by Grendel himself.

    As for "predatory capitalism", the only difference is that in the 21st century it's done on the Internet, it was always totally predatory.

    And now days they don't allow any of those sniveling "principles" to interfere with it anymore.

    It is also, a sad commentary on the world in general and the direction it is headed.

    But you already know my feelings on that - Ragnarok.



  • @Ernst, you may be spot-on. Chris Anderson may also be correct in saying GPL v3 will not be in any way acceptable. I would like to hear that from other Dronecode board members though. As Gary has intimated we really should hear more clarification here on that score. Is is the case that some of these Platinum members may have been willing to tolerate Ardupilot, and even funded it with the trivial money required, if it allowed them to adapt things for a similar project with acceptable licensing. I may be nieve and I can assure you I have no information.
  • Anyone who couldn't see this debacle coming from the moment a newly hatched commercial enterprise was overlaid on the "community" needs a class in predatory capitalism as practiced in the 21st century.

    What was expected, when a guy quits a high-end job as a middleman/broker (called an "editor" in his particular industry), throws open the door of a shabby little Web site disguised as the Playboy Mansion of cutting-edge tech, and invites everyone in, to pile on in a never-ending orgy of amazing, creative tech-porn, no strings attached, except for the cameras in the ceiling and lots of one-way mirrors? There are people who burned their membership cards to this little honey-trap long ago, people to whom the milking operation at the bottom of the pile was obvious from day one.

    So, what to do when the beast is sated and showing everyone the door at the end of the long night? Stop whining about the hyenas' stripes and spots, they won't wash out, and instead of feeling all rejected and outcast and pissed off, consider the good fortune, and the ultimate lack of skill by the predators, that stopped the music and broke the spell, thus finally allowing an overdue departure and the creation of a new home, located outside the ghetto of insatiable greed left behind. And remember, Illegitimi Non Carborundum !

  • Hi Chris,

    Could you post a link that illustrates "GPL V3 code is being banned throughout the tech industry" and explains the exact reasoning behind it?

    This honestly is not an attempt at confrontation, just a real attempt at clarification.

    Best Regards,


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