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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  • Hi Rob,

    Great article, more than merely nostalgic for me.

    I nearly ended up working with Nolan on a early S100 3D video graphics card and met with him several times.

    I was seriously impressed that he was one of the few people I met who was crazier than I was.

    I have a "Petster" collection in his honor as one of the first real genius's of Silicon Valley.

    This time isn't exactly the same and one thing that is different is that new barely tapped possibilities like robotics and 3D vision, deep learning and true AI are opening faster than the suits can head them off.

    But there were way more eventual dead ends even for companies with serious breakthroughs than success.

    And in the end all the nice little tech guys got stomped out by the no holds barred business types.

    It may not be widely remembered now, But Steve Jobs and Apple and Bill Gates and Microsoft were utterly ruthless in burying the competition.

    If they couldn't do it by intimidating or overpowering them, they simply bought them (and buried them).

    The book "Fire in the Valley" gets most of it right, but I was close enough to it all to know what they got wrong.

    I still have great faith that eventually genius will simply win, as the tech stuff evolves faster and faster, eventually you reach the point beyond all the Bull.

    And the right stuff is speeding up now.



  • With Softbank now owning ARM, I wonder if Randy could make an appeal to Mr. Son directly for a reference ARM design for FC+basic features SoC, as a drone network fits into a cellphone carrier's IoT plans? Quite a few cellphone chips are monolithic or near monolithic, with separate ARM CPU cores for certain functions (radio, GPS, wifi, etc) networked within the SoC or sometimes also sharing wafer space. A one stop licensable design that had an FC core+MEMS IMU and companion core+Mali GPU would be a very interesting baseline.

  • Well he is a man of principal I suppose. He was a stellar member of the DIYD community.

    @Patrick -- you have articulated better what I was thinking. Hopefully folks like you can have some input into future choices that will need to be made.
  • @Gary, this just came across my desk, and it instantly made me think of your stories, and all the parallels that can be driven to today's drone industry.

  • Great vision Patrick, +1

    and Marc, Yeah  I noticed he isn't listed as a member anymore, and all his previous posts are gone.

    I fully understand, I'd probably do that myself, but I still have a bunch of Old informational blog posts on vibration and such that others are still using, so I won't for now.

    Definitely time to move to the ArduPilot site and start trying to help make something of that though.

    Best Regards,


  • @Marc, I took google's Tensor Processors as an unusual processing model to show that AI has made astronomic progress since 2012. This type of environment is not suited for an autonomous UAV , this is quite clear for everyone, but we are shifting to an era where hardware is a commodity and the vast majority of software that is embedded within the device is becoming a commodity as well.  Take as an example the smartphones, nobody really cares about the OS and the associated drivers and stuff... the APPS is that what really count. And these Apps are becoming smarter everyday thanks to AI and the ubiquitous Internet Access. Things like Personnal Assistants, Translators, Image recognition , Shazam and more and more apps are making our everyday life. 

    Robots will become a commodity as well, as an example, now you can get a vacuum cleaning robot with integrated SLAM at your WallMart (,  and DJI PHANTOM4 has AI based obstacle avoidance (and  Yuneec pretty soon, cause Intel bought the company making the chip, look  here).

    So what will be the killer app for robots ?  AUTONOMY 

    And how you can get autonomy on a robot ? By downloading on its onboard Neural Processor  one or many specific mission based on highly specialized datasets.

    And where will you get theses datasets ?..... You probably know the answer ;-)

  • @Patrick so do you think it makes most sense to follow the hardware and environment that Google is developing?Firmware has to touch the real world somewhere and maybe Google is the path that offers the least compromise of GPL day-to-day principals -- in the end of the day it seems that at some level we are all 'working for the man' at some point no matter how hard one tries not to.

  • Developer

    @Roberto & Fnoop

    If you like the Zynq design you should take a look at the Parallella board from Adapteva. It has the Zynq + 16 core Epiphany RISC processor.

    But my point still stands, all the computing power in the world is useless if you don't have have software that can use it efficiently. And making efficient computer vision algorithms for specialized hardware is not trivial.

  • @Gary - I think Guy checked out of DIYD! Maybe I am wrong but I do not see his profile any longer.

  • Wonder why Guy pulled all his posts, they seemed worth while to me.

    @ Roberto, A few decent benchmarks could be really helpful, too bad an I7 is so power hungry.

    It could be that for the upcoming vision based navigation, both ASIC (preferrably as supplied and supported by 3D vision technology maker eg: Movidius and Realsense - Intel) plus a potent multiGPU co-computer eg: TX1 - Nvidia are likely to be the preferred configuration.

    Right now, you can pretty much do all the same stuff on a TK1 just not as fast as a TX1 and as time marches on, TX1s will get cheaper and newer faster ones will be made.

    Right now TX1 module is only available alone in large quantity, but that will likely change too.

    TX1 is actually a great platform at least partly because it can also use the Nvidia GTX 1080 boards deep learning capability to easily develop AI just for it.

    Nvidia really is at the forefront of this.



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