3D Robotics

Meet the Developers: Jason Short

3689419414?profile=originalNext up in our series is Jason Short, who is leading the ArduCopter 2 team.


Jason works right around the corner from me in San Francisco, so I see him often. When I walk into his company's reception area carrying a crazy robot multicopter, the receptionist nods knowingly and says "you must be looking for Jason." ;-)


Among the many cool things about Jason is that he's an ace at Flash programming. So if you were impressed by the interactive PID tuning demos in the manual, that's Jason!


Here he is, in his own words:


Name: Jason Short


Home: San Francisco's Duboce Triangle


Dev Team Role: Leads ArduCopter team


Day Job: I am a design director at Smart Design, know for creating OXO good grips line, Flip Video, and long list of other familiar products. I am an industrial designer turned interaction designer with 16 years experience consulting for consumer product and software companies. 

Other DIY Drones Contributions: Lead developer for Ardupilot 2.5-2.8, ArdupilotMega 1.0, ArduCopter 2.0, Xplane HIL



Background:  I purchased the Ardupilot while at Maker Faire had never actually installed the software. Instead I decided I try and re-write it from scratch to be a stabilizer and RTL system for my FPV plane. Pretty soon I had a full autopilot that could fly waypoints. Not well, but it worked. After posting my work to DIYDrones Chris asked me to help with the next gen of AP. I modified it, made it compatible with Happy's ground station and released it as Ardupilot 2.5.
As soon as the first IMU was developed, I started working with Doug on versions 2.6 and later. Doug's knowledge of flight theory gave me the confidence to keep pushing. Mike Smith's development expertise gave me enough coding advice to get myself out of almost any coding roadblock. 


About that time I developed the HIL for testing using a simple solution in Perl to connect to Xplane. We used the HIL to test the new flight modes and the APM mission scripting capabilities.


Ten months ago I had a kid and realized my days of testing at the airfield all weekend were over, so I switched to Arducopter. I flew the original code twice and then fell back into my old habit of writing my own version. This time I ported the APM code that we wrote last summer and plugged in Jose Julio's control laws and within a few weeks had a flying copter. This version was not meant to be a release, but a private build for me to learn with. Pretty soon I  had the framework for mission scripting, logging, HIL and Mavlink in place  so the team decided to make AC 2 with my personal code.


The last 4 months have been tuning and rework to get it flying well in all situations on a wide variety of platforms. 
I have to say, when I started with AC I had no clue what I was doing, nor did I fully understand the control laws. I'm still learning and trying new ideas and getting help from the team where I can. Unlike fixed wings, Quads can be extremely unforgiving platforms, which has proved to be incredibly challenging. But it's also been extremely satisfying. 


Personal history: I grew up the son of a HAM radio and home-brew computer dad in the 70's. I learned that world as a kid, then went to art school and promptly forgot it all. I graduated an industrial designer from University of Cincinnati and worked in Boston for 9 years doing product design. I transitioned to software while in Boston and decided to move to SF with my wife to be closer to the action in Silicon Valley. 


Other fun details: I used to be a BMX Freestyle rider, but I grew too tall to be any good (6'5") so I gave it up when I got to college. 

Interests: I'm very much interested in human perception, behavior and cognitive science which I use a lot in designing UI's. I'd love to get more into AI and robotics in general.
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  • I missed this post in August... probably I was at vacation.... it's nice to read Jason's bio and know a bit more about his life.

    Jason, I really appreciate the effort you are putting on the project. I owe you :)

    I'll pay second beer round with afernan :)



  • Amazing job, thank you very much for all the time and energy!

  • If you ever came to Madrid (Spain), you'll have a room and a beer.


  • After your break, you'll be an aerial pro-shooter no doubt. Look fwd to seeing if you get hooked. 

  • Cheers Jason for all you have done! I ve got a beautiful ten month old boy myself and I know what you mean. Great to know a little more about you.

    Seems SF is the place to be my brother has just migrated out there to try rub solders with others in the start-up community.


  • Thanks Jason for all that you have done. The community has seen a rare talent and enthusiasm that has us all eagerly waiting to see what you will come up with next.

    What must we do to get you thinking optic flow augmented stabilization/object tracking. You're the man who could do it.

  • I would also bike to San Fran from Toronto and buy you a drink if I could!


    Nice to E-meet you Jason.


    Cheers! And thanks for all the work!

  • Developer

    I really enjoy coding with Jason as we have somewhat different approaches.  He has been a SUPER team member.


    Say Jason, speaking of wanting to get more into AI, have you seen this: 


  • Hi Jason,

     thanks for all ur work...I am sure i join many of the community who enjoy ur work and tinker with it :-).


    PS:- Chris I love the idea of giving a face to comments in the code :)

  • Jason is what all tinkerers want to be. Able to code exceptionally and make hardware modifications well. Tis an honour sir *salute*

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