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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  • Developer

    I should also clarify that by making simpler I am not referring to core flight logic, but all the layers of "hand holding" logic that has been added to the point that I no longer can say for sure how ArduPilot will behave in certain situations.

  • Monroe, for sure, we get enough requests for this, that it appears there should be enough people to form a community.

    Again, sorry for blowing up a landmine.  I've just seen a lot of comments about this, some much more accusatory, and when attached to this particular topic, I couldn't avoid commenting.

  • @Rob

    Naa I'm not accusing anyone I'm just pointing out something I think is important. Way back in the beginning almost everyone was a developer lol. It was fun!

    But you right if I want to go back to simpler code or make a new board I should just do it myself and offer it and what I'm pushing on you guys is really probably up to me.

    Ardupilot code is next to impossible for the want to be programmer these days which is where the base started almost.

    So I guess I should really put up or shut up.

    There is a site are there plans to make changes to the site?

    I guess for the future of Ardupilot that would be the place to work?

    ArduPilot Open Source Autopilot
    The most advanced open source autopilot for use by both professionals and hobbyist. Supports multi-copters, planes, rovers, boats, helicopters, ante…
  • There is one fundamental mechanism that all DroneCode  associated systems are using ,and this is MAVLink ( and  that iMAVROS that has 3 types of licences since 2015). It really looks like it is a (L) GNU but, Lorenz added this paragraph a few months ago ( here). This new paragraph creates an exception on the product licence. Here is the text:

    +This repository contains the generator for the MAVLink protocol. The generator itself is
    +(L)GPL v3 licensed, while the generated code is subject to different licenses:

    + Exception to the (L)GPL v.3:
    +As an exception, if you use this Software to compile your source code and
    +portions of this Software, including messages ("the generator output"), are embedded
    +into the binary product as a result, you may redistribute such product and such
    +product is hereby licensed under the following MIT license:

    So the Dronecode Board of directors have accepted a GPL licence with this exception ?

    update copying file per community / developer discussion · mavlink/mavlink@864af31
    Marshalling / communication library for drones. Contribute to mavlink/mavlink development by creating an account on GitHub.
  • @Rob -- now I better understand your frustration over the issue of 'porting' to PX4 from Ardupilot. Watching this unfold has been an education.

    Yeah, I think now, some people will begin to understand my ornery attitude over the past year or so, as I have seen all of this happening in slow motion. Most of these machinations have been happening in back rooms and not in public.  But now it's all come into the light. 

    And still, not all of the details on exactly what has been happening over the years is public.  Trust me, it gets worse.

  • @ John, Hey I'm sure we can come up with something satisfactory without disowning the beginner?

    Make a new board that people can learn to

  • if you guys keep talking and doing nothing to make software easier to fly, i don't think ardupilot will go much further. QGC running px4 is ok with -40c but ardupilot doesn't, and mission planner is too bad for new users, linux flight controls never get integrated into any GC till now. keep talking and earning money from your investors and complaining what the world has changed.  

    Yeah, thanks Jerry.  And what have you done to help make Ardupilot better?

  • Regarding going to back to APM boards to get more developers: in the last 12 months, we had an average of 26.5 contributors/month, in the 12 months before that the average was 21.25

    We may need to improve the code structure (although it isn't that hard to learn it) inside each vehicle and be more consistent in our library work, but it isn't that bad that it is driving developers away - its the opposite, we have more contributors now than last year.

    And we don't need to discuss the limitations of that old hardware or the work needed to maintain it, I think that's clear for everybody.

  • I'll say it one more time we need to make a path for people interested in learning to code. I bet most of the guy's working on ardupilot have forgotten how important that is.

    No, Monroe.

    I'm seeing this sort of messaging a lot.  Older, cheaper hardware, simpler code, etc.  And then accusing us of forgetting our roots, or not caring about the little guy, etc.

    Can we get a little credit for accomplishing a lot, and continuing to push forward?  I get that some people want something simpler.  And that's the beauty of our GPL code.  If you want that, just go do it youself!  Fork our code, and go nuts.  Or, become the official code maintainer of the older branches (but which will bring with it some expectation of quality and professionalism).

    But do NOT expect us to do it for you.  I'm not interested in the older stuff, because it's not capable of doing what I need.  And I certainly can't see any way to put food on my family's table supporting the old code/hardware.  If you can, or are interested in just doing it as a hobby, please, do so.

    I'm just seeing this sort of commentary a lot, and it sounds like people are saying we owe it to the world to maintain the old code/hardware.  Haven't we done enough?  We don't owe anybody anything.  Some of the other developers are interested in helping out here, out of their free will.  I'm only speaking for myself.  But we all make our own choices.

    Sorry if you feel like you just stepped on a landmine.  But... you sort of have.  Your comments are not too bad, but I'm just responding out of frustration, because I've seen this sort of commentary in various places, some of it quite aggressive and accusatory, demanding we do what other people want because it's owed to the world.  It's not.

    When I bought my first APM1.4, thinking I was getting a working autopilot so I could fly a camera on a helicopter (largely because of Chris' promotion, I might add), I quickly found out that wasn't true at all. However, instead of simply tossing it away, or demanding that somebody fix the problems for me, I rolled up my sleeves, and got involved, and contributed.

  • @Rob -- now I better understand your frustration over the issue of 'porting' to PX4 from Ardupilot. Watching this unfold has been an education.

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