When we launched Solo back in 2015, one of its selling points was that it was based on the open source ArduPilot software, the project that Jordi Munoz and I launched as a side-project way back in 2007 and then grew beyond our imagination in the able hands of the community. The point of Solo was to package up this open stack in a polished, easy-to-use consumer product (like the DJI Phantom), treating the ArduPilot stack as an “open core” and extending its functionality with proprietary features much as companies do with Linux-based devices.
This worked very well as a product (Solo had some really innovative features, some of which are still unequaled) but less well as a business (we couldn’t make it cheaply enough to keep up with the rapid price declines in the consumer market, so we stopped making them at the end of 2015). Now, two years later, 3DR has shifted its focus to the commercial market that exploded after the FAA launched its Part 107 commercial operator licensing program last year. But there are lots of Solos still out there, with great untapped potential — it’s just not our core business anymore.
So what to do? Open source the rest of it! We’ve heard loud and clear that the community wants a tried-and-true Ardupilot platform that can be extended without limit. The Ardupilot team has already embraced Solo and ported the latest flight code to it. But the custom 3DR WiFi control, telemetry, and video streaming technology, the “Artoo” controller and the “Shot Manager” mission control stack that runs on the onboard Linux processor were not open source, so the full potential of the drone remained locked.
No more. I’m delighted to announce that we’re now open sourcing almost all of the remaining code, including the SoloLink wireless stack, ShotManager, the high-level onboard mission scripting layer that gave Solo all of its “smart shots”, and a range of other packages include the code for the controller and the build tools.
The code has now been released in a new OpenSolo organization on Github, licenced under the permissive Apache 2.0 licence.
More details about what’s been released here:
solo-builder – scripts for configuring a virtual machine to build the Solo software
meta-3dr – the build recipes that assemble the complete Linux system for the Solo and Controller i.MX6 processors.
shotmanager – implementation of Solo’s Smart Shots.
sololink – 3DR software that runs on the i.MX6 processors, implementing things like video streaming, control, telemetry, pairing, logging, etc.
artoo – firmware for the STM32 microcontroller in the controller responsible for the inputs and screen.
solo-gimbal (coming soon) – firmware for the microcontrollers in the Solo Gimbal