Introducing the PX4 autopilot system

The PX4 team is pleased to announce early availability of the PX4 autopilot platform, with hardware available immediately from 3D Robotics. 

The platform is a low cost, modular, open hardware and software design targeting high-end research, hobby and industrial autopilot applications.

PX4 is an expandable, modular system comprising the PX4FMU Flight Management Unit (autopilot) and a number of optional interface modules.

The PX4FMU autopilot features include:

  • 168Mhz ARM CortexM4F microcontroller with DSP and floating-point hardware acceleration.
  • 1024KiB of flash memory, 192KiB of RAM.
  • MEMS accelerometer and gyro, magnetometer and barometric pressure sensor.
  • Flexible expansion bus and onboard power options.

Expansion modules available at release include:

  • PX4IOAR This module interfaces PX4 to the AR.Drone motor controllers, allowing a complete quadrotor to be assembled using an AR.Drone frame and motors.
  • PX4IO A flexible interface module with support for eight PWM servo outputs, relays, switched power and more.

As an open hardware design, third-party and DIY expansion modules can be easily developed for specific applications, and more PX4 modules are in development.

In addition to the versatile hardware platform, PX4 introduces a sophisticated, modular software environment built on top of a POSIX-like realtime operating system. The modular architecture and operating system support greatly simplify the process of experimenting with specific components of the system, as well as reducing the barriers to entry for new developers.

Adding support for new sensors, peripherals and expansion modules is straightforward due to standardized interface protocols between software components. Onboard microSD storage permits high-rate logging and data storage for custom applications. MAVLink protocol support provides direct integration with existing ground control systems including QGroundControl and the APM Mission Planner.

Pricing of the PX4 components reflects more than a year of careful development and a strong commitment from our manufacturing partner.

This release is targeted at early adopters and developers looking for a more capable platform than existing low-cost autopilots. With more than an order of magnitude more processing power and memory compared to popular 8-bit autopilot platforms, PX4 is exceptional value for money and provides substantial room for future growth.

For more information about the PX4 autopilot platform, visit the project website at

PX4 modules can be purchased from our manufacturing partner, 3DRobotics.

Views: 52365

Comment by apocolipse on July 25, 2012 at 3:39pm


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 25, 2012 at 3:46pm

apocolipse: Absolutely. Please check the product wiki for details, but this is a full pro-grade autopilot, designed as a platform for total autonomy.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 25, 2012 at 3:49pm

Huge congrats to the PX4, ETH and 3DR teams for this launch, which has been the fruit of more than a year of work. Full details will come in the follow-on posts tomorrow and the rest of the week, but we think this is a game-changing platform, especially for advanced and experimental use. And although it may not be obvious from the photos in this post, but it's TINY!

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on July 25, 2012 at 3:55pm

Looks great! I'm looking forward to getting ArduPlane on this.

Comment by Francis Pelletier on July 25, 2012 at 3:55pm

is it replacing the APM 2 in any way? is it really better?

Comment by Roberto Navoni on July 25, 2012 at 4:25pm

Congratulation to 3DR team for his first platform based on ARM. And to ETH to his great work on RTOS and new approach to develop multi tasking application:)

I'm working with the  Team to share my 2 years of experience on STM32 and Multipilot32 platform. The target of my work in the begin will be port Arducopter32 also on PX4 then using that as starting point and  try to understand how improve the originally Arducopter firmware developed for 8 bit processor to new 32 bit platform.

I'm very happy to work at this project inside this great team.

If there are people that would join development on new Arm platform is welcome we need to doing a lot of work on it :)

I'm very interesting also to original PX4 RTOS and PX application that use all the resource available on 32 bit platform. Respect of Arducopter32 firmware the new PX4 RTOS and application is a lot different of standard arduino platform.



3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 25, 2012 at 4:55pm

Francis: this is aimed at a different market: research, universities and high-end performance. But ultimately, as Roberto says, we do plan to port the ArduCopter, ArduPlane, etc codebases to this hardware so people can have a choice of platforms to use, APM 2.x, 3.x (the ARM version), PX4 and others, such as Roberto's Multipilot32 and forthcoming VR Brain platform (which uses the same ARM chip as this PX4 board) that already runs ArduCopter. 

Comment by Hyon Lim on July 25, 2012 at 6:14pm

Finally, it has come.

Comment by Chris Gough on July 25, 2012 at 6:40pm

These look great, especially great if they usher-in an age where different open source UAV platforms (Ardu*, Pixhawk/NuttX, OpenPilot, ChibiOS, Paparazzi, ...) can be used on the same hardware. Exciting times!

Comment by Jani Hirvinen on July 25, 2012 at 7:24pm

Now let the crunching begin. Finally we have platform that can do multitasking and is easy expand. Congrats to ETH and others for it. 


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones

© 2020   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service