3D Robotics

Next-generation FPGA flight controllers coming

Interesting preview of a very powerful new autopilot from Aerotenna: 

The Revolutionary SoC Flight Controller

OcPoC (Octagonal Pilot on Chip) is the SoC FPGA-based open-source flight control platform engineered to bring you greatly enhanced I/O capabilities and processing power that is unparalleled by any other platform of its class. Including the traditional sensor options for common peripherals, OcPoC also expands its input and output capabilities to include fully programmable PWM, PPM and GPIO pins to integrate with a vast number of different sensor additions. It also includes many other standardized connectors for peripherals such as GPS, CSI camera link and SD card. Drone developers can integrate various sensors and have the processing power to not only run ArduPilot but also implement real-time processing of sensor data simultaneously. OcPoC opens the door for drone development to the next level.


OcPoC-Zynq is powered by the Xilinx Zynq processor which combines the flexibility of FPGA architecture with the processing power of ARM, all in one SoC. Along with the I/O expansion, OcPoC provides increased processing power capable of achieving real-time sensor fusion and onboard data processing. This advanced system caters to both the UAV enthusiast that wants a ready-to-fly package and also to programmers and developers wanting a platform to power their ideas.


• First Xilinx SoC FPGA-based flight controller
• FPGA + ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor
• Over 100 I/Os for sensor integration
• Video streaming and processing capabilities
• Enhanced GPS and IMU sensor packages
• PX4 and APM compatible (www.dronecode.org)
• Open-source hardware and software platform

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  • Aerotenna is supposed to take part in a competition in the next few hours for obstacle avoidance. Look forward to seeing what they can do. 


    HG - UTM Preliminary Drone Sense & Avoid
    HiddenGenius - Improve the world! Spark a technology challenge! Shape the tech competition. Sponsor a prize. Compete to win. Add your hidden genius!…
  • What's the advantage of having one super-powerful flight controller that handles sensors and high level computing, versus having one relatively simple autopilot with a companion computer like a Raspberry Pi? Wouldn't it be better for reliability's sake to have one board dedicated to flight tasks while another handles onboard computing/sensor fusion?

  • John you mean to say it isn't a "next-gen FPGA based flight controller", rather a ARM/Linux based FC, that has to share it's CPU resources with video and image processing?

    Shocked I am! ;-)

  • Developer

    Calling it a next generation FPGA flight controller is a bit of a stretch.

    The main advantage of using FPGA is accurate timing needed for controlling I/O, and signal filtering for sensors etc. This is pretty much why FPGA's where created in the first place, to have high speed, high bandwidth programmable interfaces.

    But I don't see any advantage using FGPA for higher level autopilot logic. CPU architecture (ARM etc.) are plenty fast enough for that and easier to develop on which is very important. In this regard the Zync SoC is perfect, since it already has an ARM dual core they can use to run the APM stack as is. Bringing us back to the misleading title..

    Remember this site is mostly populated by technically minded people who has a very low threshold for 'Marketing speak'.

  • Why change "APM compatible (www.dronecode.org)" from the original source to "PX4 and APM compatible (www.dronecode.org)" .

    Deliberately misleading, and dishonest, since APM was booted out of DroneCode.


  • So basically it is running APM on the Zynq (or Altera cyclone) dual core Arm A9 and added the PPM & PWM FPGA library based on the ZYBopilot code developped 2 years ago?
  • have seen this website for a while, but what's in the FPGA logic is the key selling point. Once a Japanese KS'ed a nano drone with flow positioning is failed, based on Zynq.

    I am helping indie developers doing hardware prototyping, setereo vision depth sensing will be built into FPGA logic for opencv depth map. i hope this project will be open enough to implement open IP and software stack.

  • So it still isn't compatible with PX4 but Chris is already advertising it is.

    @Hongshu Qian

    Will the shipping be delayed if PX4 support isn't ready in time? Both the OcPoC™ with Altera Cyclone® mini SoC Flight Controller and the OcPoC™ with Xilinx Zynq® mini SoC Flight Controller appear as being in stock. Are they shipping yet? Do they have PX4 support already?

    Also, will you open pull requests to bring support for these boards to upstream or will you just leave it in your own repository?

  • Which part of the flight controller is actually running on the FPGA? And how much does it save? Because at the moment I believe the main limitation is memory and not CPU time.

  • We recently started working on PX4 compatibility. The APM porting work is already done and in our repo as Auturgy mentioned. The goal for OcPoC is to introduce a FPGA SoC-based flight control platform that can integrate with popular open flight stacks.

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