We've been dropping hints about the forthcoming Linux-based versions of APM/Pixhawk. Here's another glimpse of the future, using the forthcoming Pixhawk Fire "cape" (like an Arduino shield) for Beaglebone Black.  Victor Mayoral Vilches explains the BeaglePilot project, which is a Linux-based autopilot for flying robots. It was a project selected by BeagleBoard at the Google Summer of Code 2014.

BeaglePilot project aims to create the first Linux-based autopilot for flying robots using the BeagleBone and the BeagleBone Black as the “hardware blueprint”. For this purpose the project will focus on integrating ArduPilot (most popular autopilot) in the BeagleBone (Black). The main tasks performed will be userspace drivers development, the Robot Operative System Integration (ROS), web IDE exploration and security assessment. The BeagleBone cape “PixHawk Fire Cape” and the robot “Erle” will be used.

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 29, 2014 at 11:20am


Comment by Gary McCray on April 29, 2014 at 11:28am

That is a seriously aggressive class project schedule, I can't wait to see what Victor and his group accomplish, my BBB awaits anxiously.

Best Regards,


Comment by Greg Dronsky on April 29, 2014 at 12:18pm

I am happy to see, that the open source strategy takes us to the next level. I am sure that in few years we will see APM evolution that is awesomely safe and stable.  

Comment by Cliff-E on April 29, 2014 at 12:42pm

Looks great Chris. We've already got APM-BBB integration here and heading down the same path as we needed off-PCB IMU redundancy for our safety regulation folks since we're running APMs on our setup here. As well as we're already tapped out in memory and resources from that Atmel chipset, the BBB sure futureproofs things for at least 2 yrs...

Were there specs on IMU and comm yet on the shield? I really like some canbus-based sensors (and the BBB already supports it).

Though I use ROS... not a fan compared to the proprietary stuff we use here.

Comment by Mustafa TULU on April 29, 2014 at 12:44pm

What was the ardupilot IDE seen at the video?

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on April 29, 2014 at 12:53pm

Like Gary McCray, I have my BeagleBone Black all ready and waiting for the INS cape.

I had originally bought an Adafruit prototyping cape and a Chinese I2C IMS/baro/compass module, but if a cape with all of the essential modules will be available I will go that route.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by Roberto Navoni on April 29, 2014 at 2:39pm

I Join the group of guys that would fly with linux based apm :) 

Comment by Jack Crossfire on April 29, 2014 at 3:08pm

Why doesn't 3D Robotics fund it instead of making them go through the Goog summer of code? 

Comment by Dan Wilson on April 29, 2014 at 5:58pm

From a quick glance at the cape design, it looks like you're connecting the sensors directly to the BBB communication peripherals (I2C,SPI,UART etc) i.e. without a separate micro dedicated to low level communications with the sensors - is this the case? If so, you'll have to play with real-time patches to ensure hard real-time sensor sampling which often requires strict timing constraints. Further, I imagine a lot of cycles will be being wasted, constantly interrupting out of the main code to sample the sensors.

In my opinion, rather than taking steps to make the BBB more like a low level micro, it's better to actually add a micro to the cape for at least sensor sampling then use the BBB for what it's good for (high level processing without strict timing constraints + all the other luxuries of Linux). You could add servo PWM generation to the micro and even a simple failsafe autopilot in the event that Linux crashes or hangs.

My own experience with a BBB-based autopilot is that low latency serial comms uses more CPU load than you'd think.

The BBB is fantastic, good luck!

Comment by ghulands on April 29, 2014 at 7:01pm

When will the cape be available?


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