3D Robotics

3689677833?profile=originalThis new companion computer from Volta costs just $299 but brings a huge amount of power to Pixhawk-based drones. It's designed to compete with the DJI Manifold at a lower price, and it's open source. OpenCV-based computer vision, streaming HD video, 4G wireless and a 30-second installation with Pixhawk.  Impressive! 


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  • Dear AI B, 

    XU4+DF13 is just the hardware, 4Gmetry III is a companion computer. Differences are:

    1. Volta takes full commercial responsability for the final use as companion & LTE telemetry 
    2. Volta gives a pre-designed, pre-selected, installed, configured software; including libs, dependencies, etc..
    3. Volta provides full customer support 

    As shown and listed everywhere, power supply is not included in 4Gmetry v.III: the reason is that system integrators have very different constraints. E.g.: on rovers you could be redundant with BECs; on copters and planes you tipically want to minimize the load and - typically - use single 5V source.

    AI B, I assume that when you bought 4Gmetry you wanted 4G telemetry. If you've some problem I do strongly invite you to take advantage of our customer support: we've seen hundreds of cases in different application fields from military to security, from SaR to FPV hobbyst - we're very pleased to assist you!


  • We ordered a Volta 4Gmetry III a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived today.  After unpacking it, I realized that we could just ordered the ODROID-XU4 and save some money.  The Volta doesn't even include a power supply and the available documentation is really bad and out of date.  You are pretty much paying over $200 more for just an USB chinese cable adapted with a DF13 connector to connect to the Pixhawk. Ouch!  For security reasons here in US, we cannot even use 4G for our project. Grazie Mile, Silvio!

  • @chris

    A fine platform for sure! Good job Volta.

    I expect most folks don't care...but I think it's a disservice to the community to call it open source.

    The Odroid boards and Samsung processors are pretty far down pile in terms of open source friendlyness.



  • Developer
    @JB after discovering that the 4gmetry solution does not even come with a LTE module I'm going to produce a image for RPi and XU4, since $200 for $99 dollars worth of parts that come straight from the ODROiD store is excessive. And the system doesn't even do what peopl expect without a lot of extra work. It's no where near a plug and play solution. If the markup was a more reasonable amount I wouldn't have felt compelled to complain about it. They don't even list compatible LTE modules on there site.

    I fear that any real person that purchases the system will feel cheated. The supplier is also heavily using DIYD to sell the product, so its more imperative to make it clear to potential customers looking at this product it is not going to do what they expect easily.
  • It's fantastic, I pilot my drone to the office and my workers bring it in different locations and I pilot it to the remote control

  • I think this is really great for certain things.

    For anything that required GPU acceleration (deep learning, most machine vision) you are better off with an Nvidia board - as the main frameworks and libraries atm primarily use CUDA. Caffe has OpenCL support in the works but last time I checked BLAS libraries (required for neural networks) for openCL are still 5x slower than with CUDA.

    Jetson TX1 is pretty expensive still, TK1 boards (which have less CUDA cores but still powerful) are not too pricey.

    NVidia is really pushing deep learning hard, much harder than ARM for Mali, and they have a big advantage at the moment.

  • The easiest way for anyone to adopt this is if one of the developers would publish a ready to go XU4 linux image to write to a SDCard, like BBBmini etc. Ideally someone would offer a simple serial to DF13 cable for the Pixhawk interconnection for a few bucks (instead of a FTDI) and then the hardware can be bought from anywhere at a cost saving, with the same amount of parts that need to plugged together.

    Of course, as previously, and if so inclined, 4GMetry could of course offer the linux image for download on their website for a fee. If the image would cost around $20-30 plus $5 or so per update, I think that's fair, considering there is no substantial ongoing costs in distributing the OS image. Of course alternative images could be made available for various platforms, like the Nvidia platforms.

    On that point, a comparison with the nvidia platform is not really beneficial to the XU4 at all. The current X1 nvidia platform is considerably more powerful in the GPU department (1TFLOP vs 100 GFLOP ie 10x faster) plus it also has many more camera interfaces, which allows for multiple HDMI in/outs as desired, plus multiple USB3 ports for connecting other peripherals like SDR etc. The new X1 module plus Jurgens dev board is of similar size to the XU4 but with excessive amounts of extra connectivity. Just alone factoring in the extra performance and connectivity, plus the reduced energy required by the nvidia and overall better OpenCV integration, makes the old last generation Exynos chip look a bit sad on the test bench.

    I'd compare it with the Solo companion board instead to make it look better... ;-)  In fact the XU4 is a little bit overkill for just mavproxy services, the old version using a Pi or C1, or maybe a version using the new PiZero would be better suited to provide 4G telemetry, at a considerable lower cost and size? 

    On the 4G telemetry range I'd also like to see range at least labeled as being "subject to mobile reception". It's true the GCS can be operated wherever it has an internet connection...even from the other side of the planet. But technically, the RF reception and connectivity of the aircraft over 4G is separate from the "infinite range" of the GCS via the internet over landlines etc.

    However, in saying that, the GCS won't work either if it can't connect to the internet. From experience the aircraft always has better mobile reception than the GCS on the ground using 4G, which means that in reality any local GCS is the limiting factor for 4G range, unless of course the GCS is plugged into a landline ADSL! Which sort of the defeats the purpose somewhat, unless one is used to operating UAVs out of a remote secret lair! ;-) 

    In any case the range is limited by 4G coverage, regardless of how little bandwidth is used for telemetry over 4G and this should be made clear to buyers, that aren't "savy" or "DIY" enough to build the kit themselves. 4Gmetry could be open to litigation should they not define the actual range sufficiently, for example from a fly-away that results in property damage or worse due to the loss of "infinite range".




  • Thank you @Chris_Anderson, @Randy, @benbojangles, @Thomas_Stone, @Edildrone, @The_Sun, @Jiro_Hattori for the appreciations, they mean a lot to us!

    Thanks also to all the new 4Gmetry customers, you will enjoy it!

    We received a lot of feedbacks / suggestions: they are all taken is serious consideration, thank you! We are working hard on the next generation of 4Gmetry, open source as usual - for the pleasure of DIY-at-any-cost. See you all in http://diydrones.com/group/volta!

  • It is nice to have some options for open source companion computer system and application for Pixhawk.

    In the situation that 3DR might keep close their companion computer system in close.

  • I agree with @Edildrone

    Look, Im a DIY guy - but at some point time is going to be much more valuable than the added cost of purchasing a turn key system. Sure you could build one of these with identical functionality for 180 or so bucks, but you still have to get it working yourself. For some one that doesn't want to spend the time or is not familiar with these types of systems the extra hundred bucks is absolutely worth it. 

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