Modular phone concept for flight controllers

Motorola seems to be getting pretty serious about open hardware after being acquired by Google - it has just announced Project Ara.

We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.

The design for Project Ara consists of what we call an endoskeleton (endo) and modules.  The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter--or something not yet thought of!

This might sound similar to a recent concept proposed by Phonebloks - indeed Motorola is actively engaging that global community to develop this.

Since so much of the technology in a flight controller comes from mobile phones, it seems to me that this would also make a great platform for us to use.

Views: 884

Comment by Aaron Shaw on October 29, 2013 at 8:08pm

Ah yes, just install the multicopter module. :)

Side note, grr, can't get the Facebook Like link to work.

Comment by Matthew Coleman on October 29, 2013 at 11:52pm

Do you really want all of your sensors in one modular package?

Comment by Aaron Shaw on October 30, 2013 at 5:33am
Maybe an extension module to locate a module remotely.
Comment by Quadzimodo on October 31, 2013 at 3:36am

Arron - I think you may have it backwards.  We will be installing phone modules into our modular flight controllers.

Matthew - Of course you do!  No wires, no mounting issues, no worries about interference between modules (which are actually engineered to work in such close proximity), or orientation (self sensing installation).

This will provide us with all manner of highly refined and highly miniaturised modules for our aerial platforms and for just about anything we could want - like RTK Navigation and LTE communication, HD FPV transmission, etc.

It is really exciting to think of what may lie just around the corner - just months, not necessarily years, into the future.

Comment by Aaron Shaw on October 31, 2013 at 4:41am

I could see it going 2 ways, the vehicle as the base for the modules to plug in to or, the vehicle as a module to plug in to one of their standard bases.

Even if the modules are designed to work in close proximity to each other, they might not be designed to work close to high power draw motors.  Which is why I suggested an extension module that plugs in like a module, has a bit of wire (or not) then accepts a module to be plugged into it at the other end.

Indeed, if they can get this going, it will be very exciting.

Comment by Quadzimodo on October 31, 2013 at 6:58am

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than one-and-a-half tonnes." - Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

"I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last the year." - Chief Business Editor, Prentice Hall, 1957

"Yeah, microchips, but what... is it good for?" - an IBM senior engineer, 1968

"There is no reason anyone in the right state of mind will want a computer in their home." - Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corp, 1977.

Comment by Sgt Ric on October 31, 2013 at 10:43am

"When we set the upper limit of PC-DOS at 640K, we thought nobody would ever need that much memory."  — William Gates, chairman of Microsoft

Comment by Quadzimodo on October 31, 2013 at 11:02am

"I know nothing!" - Colonel Wilhelm Klink, Commandant of German POW camp

Comment by Sgt Ric on October 31, 2013 at 11:08am

...Actually it was Schultz the guard who said that!

Comment by Quadzimodo on October 31, 2013 at 5:05pm
Whoops! I must admit, Hogan's Heroes was a bit before my time.


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