I Heart Robotics has a great report from the recent IROS conference on the latest from Ascending Technologies, which make the most popular multicopters used in academia. Not open source and outside of the price range of most in this community, but excellent technology and perhaps some ideas we can use here:
At their booth they had a Falcon 8 on display, which is an eight rotor sUAS designed for aerial photography and surveying.
Ascending Technologies also brought along some of their newer products including the Firefly and the Mastermind. The Firefly has several notable design features that make is a great research platform.
First, the Firefly includes an easy to see indicator light that can be used to determine the battery status or other alarms.
The six rotor design provides redundancy in the event of a motor or propeller failure. The IMU and 400 gram payload area of the Firefly are decoupled from the main frame of the vehicle helping to isolate sensors from vibrations. The Firefly will be available in 2012 starting at 5,695 Euros. A sales brochure can be found here.
The AscTec Mastermind is a new on-board computer custom designed for computationally intensive sUAS research. Available with processors up to Intel Core i7, the system can now handle running significantly more complex tasks than previously possible. The additional performance allows more tasks to be run on-board instead of on a ground station. This frees up communications bandwidth for enhanced teleoperation and make autonomous operation of the aircraft more stable in environments where WiFi is unreliable. The Mastermind supports Firewire, USB and Ethernet and additional functionality can be added via MiniPCI. Storage can be provided via CFast, mSATA, SATA or SDHC devices. Available in 2012 starting at 1,795 Euros.