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.

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  • Thanks Chris. I'm more interested in the Due since we do a lot of Arduino stuff here (other than APMs)... You guys are now making my life difficult like in the 90's: SGI Octane or DEC Alpha...

  • @Vernon: thanks! Guess I'm buying then :)

  • @Nick V

    Will there be more support for "simple" tx's soon, or am I out of luck for now?

    Actually, all you have to add is the PPM standalone encoder sold in the store now as it "sums" the discrete inputs. All it means is that they did not add a second processor to the board like the current APMs to perform the sum function. Yes, an extra part, but it should work today.

  • As soon as I heard about the Due, i thought to myself..." APM3!" This is amazing... im so excited for both APM3 and PX4!!! (and of course to test the new arducopter 2.7 when I get back home)... ugh I hate traveling now..

  • 3D Robotics

    Cliff-E: APM 3.0 (out near the end of the year) will be based on the Arduino Due platform, which uses the SAM3X ARM-based Atmel chip.  The plan is for ArduCopter/Plane to run on both it and PX4.

  • I just bought all the parts to build a miru mod for my ar drone 2.0, including a Turnigy 9x. I'd love to buy your ar board, but it seems the 9x does not support sum. Will there be more support for "simple" tx's soon, or am I out of luck for now?

  • Thanks Roberto. Sounds great. I tried email from your last comment, but it bounced--I'll use skype next time.

    I was planning to try the AC32v2.6 on it (I have a modified version running DigiMesh Xbees in API mode and some other crazy stuff). 

    Appears everyone is going with the STMF4, which is good for us software guys--but anyone interested in investigating a SAM4S (Atmel) for a MCU?

  • Moderator

    Hi Cliff-E,

    don't worry about your VBRAIN all the firmware available for PX4 will be available also for VBrain and viceversa:) We're working hard on Nuttx to activate the driver then start the  application and star to fly with RTOS . The PX4 and VBrain is very similar. Based on same micro and same sensor. So the main difference is that VBRain si for Ready to Fly application ... 8 input and 8 output 3 led 1 buzzer . Then if you use serial bus or i2c you can add module .

    I yet start to prepare the enviroment for PX4 for port the Arducopter32 yet available for MP32 and VBrain on It.

    So the interesting news is that some people working to port OpenPilot on Vbrain and also Bill Nesbit have one to try how could work our digital sensor on his platform (AutoQuad). The Fox Team support  different kind of opensource firmware based on STM32F4 micro controller on same hardware platform VBRAIN.

    Today i check the Arducopter32 v 2.7 on VBrain . It work fine .... in the next days some beta tester fly it for us ;)

    If you need support for the first flight contact me by skype.



  • This is great and a game changer.

    I'm surprised the 3DR team didn't go with mass producing the MP32, VRB, or other STMF4 boards out there... Yet having the ROS interface and sensor bus logic will allow some interesting capabilities to be developed for indoor flight. And for AP and outdoor flight, I wonder how this will stack up against the AutoQuad--which I loved the fact it's been designed with EMI hardening in mind.

    But nonetheless, the more FCs the better. I guess I'll start snooping around with the VRBrain this weekend.

  • @Stephane: The board needs 4.3 - 6V, e.g. from the BEC of your motor controller. You cannot feed 18V to it, you only can feed up to 18V to the battery sense pin to know your battery voltage, but this won't power the board.

    USB serial is supported in software (NuttX has CDC-ACM), but we're currently not using it. It will become the default option, right now I recommend to use a FTDI cable or a radio modem.

    You can use the Mediatek (although I recommend the u-Blox module because of better reception). The DIYD store carries an adapter cable for it, be sure to order it along.

    PPM input is for your RC control, if you don't use it, you can use it for whatever you want. 

    The GPIOs are freely usable, please check the F4xx reference manual about interrupt options. ADC123_IN11-13 are free to use. ALAM is also accessible and could be reconfigured

    I2C1 and I2C3 both have pull-ups, please check the schematic. Both have no devices connected to them by default, so you can use them freely. I2C1 is intended for I2C motor controllers on the external connector.

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