Almost exactly one year after the first PX4 announcement, we would like to introduce our newest member of the family, Pixhawk! For those familiar with the existing PX4 electronics, it is the all-in-one board combining PX4FMU + PX4IO, combined with a processor and sensor update and a number of new features. The current board revisions will however remain in full service and active development and are fully compatible. Pixhawk is designed for improved ease of use and reliability while offering unprecedented safety features compared to existing solutions.

Pixhawk is designed by the PX4 open hardware project and manufactured by 3D Robotics. It features the latest processor and sensor technology from ST Microelectronics which delivers incredible performance and reliability at low price points.

The flexible PX4 middleware running on the NuttX Real-Time Operating System brings multithreading and the convenience of a Unix / Linux like programming environment to the open source autopilot domain, while the custom PX4 driver layer ensures tight timing. These facilities and additional headroom on RAM and flash will allow Pixhawk the addition of completely new functionalities like programmatic scripting of autopilot operations.

The PX4 project offers its own complete flight control stack, and projects such as APM:Copter and APM:Plane have ported their software to run as flight control applications. This allows existing APM users to seamlessly transition to the new Pixhawk hardware and lowers the barriers to entry for new users to participate in the exciting world of autonomous vehicles.

The flagship Pixhawk module will be accompanied by new peripheral options, including a digital airspeed sensor, support for an external multi-color LED indicator and an external magnetometer. All peripherals are automatically detected and configured.


  • 32 bit ARM Cortex M4 Processor running NuttX RTOS

  • 14 PWM / Servo outputs (8 with failsafe and manual override, 6 auxiliary,

    high-power compatible)

  • Abundant connectivity options for additional peripherals (UART, I2C, CAN)

  • Integrated backup system for in-flight recovery and manual override with

    dedicated processor and stand-alone power supply

  • Backup system integrates mixing, providing consistent autopilot and manual

    override mixing modes

  • Redundant power supply inputs and automatic failover

  • External safety switch

  • Multicolor LED main visual indicator

  • High-power, multi-tone piezo audio indicator

  • microSD card for long-time high-rate logging

  • 32bit STM32F427 Cortex M4 core with FPU

  • 168 MHz

  • 256 KB RAM

  • 2 MB Flash

  • 32 bit STM32F103 failsafe co-processor

  • ST Micro L3GD20H 16 bit gyroscope

  • ST Micro LSM303D 14 bit accelerometer / magnetometer

  • MEAS MS5611 barometer

  • 5x UART (serial ports), one high-power capable, 2x with HW flow control

  • 2xCAN

  • Spektrum DSM / DSM2 / DSM-X® Satellite compatible input

  • Futaba S.BUS® compatible input and output

  • PPM sum signal

  • RSSI (PWM or voltage) input

  • I2C®

  • SPI

  • 3.3 and 6.6V ADC inputs

  • External microUSB port

Power System and Protection

  • Ideal diode controller with automatic failover

  • Servo rail high-power (up to 10V) and high-current ready (10A +)

  • All peripheral outputs over-current protected, all inputs ESD protected

  • Monitoring of system and servo rails, over current status monitoring of peripherals


  • Weight: 38g (1.31oz)

  • Width: 50mm (1.96")

  • Thickness: 15.5mm (.613")

  • Length: 81.5mm (3.21") 


This announcement is a service to our users and developers to allow them to plan their hardware roadmaps in time, and to show what we're currently working on. The board will not be immediately available, but 3D Robotics is taking pre-orders for Pixhawk now, and will begin shipping in late October [Update 11/11: the current expected ship date is late Nov]. The price is $199.99.

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  • 3D Robotics

    AKcopter: Aside from increased memory and better sensors, the main advantage of Pixhawk is that it's easier to use: one board in an enclosure with simplified software support. This is the main PX4-based board going forward and is the best choice. 

  • I am confused about the differences between the PX4 and the Pixhawk...all I have been able to figure out is that the clock speed and the MCU used for main processing as well as the failsafe features are the same in both of them...also that the RAM is 256 KB in the pixhawk instead of 196 KB in the PX4 how can that be if the MCU's used are the same ???......also the flash is 2MB in the Pixhawk while it is 1MB in the PX4?? Its very confusing....and what about the solid state relays used in the  PX4IO module there is nothing of that sort in the Pixhawk....what are the differences....there seems to be some confusion when to comes to the number of I2C, CAN and USART buses....what is the difference when it comes to the PWM outputs....to make the question simple...... would it be better to buy a PX4 or a Pixhawk...please I am in a real fix here??    

  • Hi Michael ,

    the level of vibration sensitivity depends on how the code processes sensor data...and if you run the APM copter code on the PX4 you will be using the IMU sensors on the PX4 to stabilize your craft using algorithms which use the inertial navigation controller...which requires a certain level of vibration dampening to perform well...it will also be required to dampen vibrations if you require accurate altitude hold.....inertial nav being implemented on all three axes as of arducopter 3.0.1    

  • I am very impatient to adopt the PX4 platform and looking at the speed at which the development of the APM copter software is going, the hardware constraints are really creating a hurdle more than being a challenge for the coders to write more efficient code...the road to a more efficient and tested code is to at least have the headroom to write an experimental code and test its effectiveness in the real world..once the experimental bit is considered to be feasible enough to implement ...Then the code can be eventually made better and more efficient as time progresses...Right now the inability to follow this trial and error method of implementation is causing the hurdles in the process of including new features at the same time retaining the already existing features due to hardware constraints....the PX4 is a fresh new hardware which will facilitate fast firmware development....the hardware was designed keeping research in mind in the first place ....so I am sure that the PX4 is the future of the APM project.... 

  • I know this might be a odd ball request, but is it possible to make a vtol with the pixhawk? Iam probably the only one thinking this might be great for that.

  • It's still not clear to me. Does the Pixhawk require the same level of vibration dampening that the APM currently needs?
  • I must admit I struggle with setting up PID's in apm 2.6

    can we expect an easier time setting up pixhawk to fly well straight out of the box I wonder?

  • Hi Jason,

    3DR has always been pretty close to the chest about what they are doing, and pretty much has never released anything remotely like a future road map.

    But they have a lot invested in both the design and the implementation of the Pixhawk, I think that it is very safe to assume that at this point the Pixhawk and the APM3 are the same thing.

    The Pixhawk was really designed to provide the same and better level of hardware interface capability of the APM plus adding the PX4's capabilities.

    It has just become a bit more of a collaborative thing with the PX4 team now also involved.

    I would be very surprised if 3DR comes out with another board within the next year or so.


    I would think it is very, very unlikely that 3DR would step even slightly away from open source or open hardware, it is the fuel that feeds the community that feeds them and their goal is not to produce the next $30,000.00 military Hexacopter but to serve us.

    The APM has been the most spectacularly successful flight controller so far and is reasonably well debugged at this point, but the very fact of the $75.00 APM as mentioned by Steven is one of the reasons 3DR has to move on.

    HobbyKing sells that $75.00 cloned APM and because it is essentially open hardware they have every right to do so, but the company that made it possible in the first place can't sell it at those prices and survive, so it has no choice but to move on.

    The clone knockoff guys have no investment in research, development, firmware debugging or support and they have really big underutilized state of the art PC manufacturing facilities in China with really cheap labor.

    They survive, often, by copying the work others have invested heavily in.

    The only way those who do the work can survive is by staying ahead of them.

    DiYDrones and 3DR pretty much ride the crest of that wave.

  • Certainly I agree for the advanced hobbyist and experimenter, the technology road map will favor the Pixhawk and those like it. I fly out very far, over terrain that would make downed platform retrieval a non-starter. So for me, the APM @ $75 and a Mobius @ $69 will result in far less wallet trauma should the worst case scenario play out. As my Mom used to say about her not so state of the art car, it gets me from point A to Point B. In other words, to each his own.

  • I think the APM is a great piece of hardware, particularly in terms of its balance of energy efficiency and functionality. However, to understand what is possible with systems that have more processing power and higher level functionality (e.g., embedded Linux SoC), you have to look to research. APM is only the beginning, and it's a great start at that. APM will never cease to be relevant (you can put it in just about anything), but currently you need separate processing hardware to do more advanced functions (e.g., computer vision). With much faster sensor sampling rates, you can also do some awesome things in terms of navigation (checkout the control systems people also at ETH). High accuracy GPS is just around the corner, which will require more processing power to fully utilize. Mostly though, improved hardware will probably be used to make implementations easier, as Chris has hinted about upcoming software to support Pixhawk. Personally, I hope the project keeps its research and open source flavour, rather than going commercial like DJI, which would be impossible to compete with on price alone. The many features and open nature of APM make it a better system for my work, particularly sensor input/output and data logging. I hope APM stays very open and flexible, making it great for researchers.

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