SLUGS Autopilot. Soon to become Open Source.

The Santa Cruz Low-cost UAV GNC System (SLUGS) is a high-end UAV Autopilot that is currently under development by the Autonomous Systems Lab at the University of California Santa Cruz. Although not ready for prime time, the project's website shows some significant progress towards a fully functional platform.The SLUGS autopilot is heavily geared towards research in small to medium sized UAVs. Great care has been taken to assure that it has enough processing power for moderately complicated control tasks and at the same time is easily reprogramable via Simulink. This effectively allows to rapidly iterate from simulation to implementation with no intermediate coding.The developed architecture physically decouples sensor integration and INS filtering from the control algorithm and communications by using two 33Fj256MC710 dsPIC Digital Signal Controllers (DSC) interconnected via a high-speed Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) bus. The SLUGS autopilot has been designed to be modular and extendable in order to extend the sensor and peripheral suite as the need arises via CAN bus daughterboards.The Ground Station Software has been developed to decode the incoming telemetry messages from the SLUGS AP. It also works as a Hardware-In-the-Loop interface to Simulink and is the central point to configure the Autopilot.One of the main features of the SLUGS AP is its ability to interact with virtually any Simulink model via a Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulator. There is a predefined protocol to send simulated sensor readings to the AP, as well as a protocol to receive control commands back. But aside from that, one can make the HIL simulator as simple or as complex as one needs. Currently we have a six-degree-of-freedom model of our UAV, and an engine model. Some work is underway to include an atmospheric and weather model.We are currently working very hard to write some sort of documentation and getting all the code ready for public release under the MIT Open Source license and under GIT version control system. We expect this to be ready around April this year.
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  • What I wrote:
    "I realize that Paparazzi code is published, but other than that I know of no actual code published and ready to implement"

    See?!? I first mentioned Paparazzi as a published real autopilot... then last half of sentence wrote that other than that I know of no complete system that is open source.

    I will look into the link you provided, and BELIEVE ME... if I can use this as leverage in any way I will get my lawyer on it to help me make things easier for AttoPilot. One very good thing is I have gone out of my way to point out to the lawyers that Atto v1.8 is merely a fair-weather autopilot, especially distinct from an IMU system.

    Anyway - this is not my thread, let's let these guys shine regarding their neat new system.
  • 3D Robotics
    Dean, we were just responding to your comment that "I just don't believe for a minute that any "real" autopilot is actually openly published. Prove me wrong." As I mentioned, I assumed you didn't meant that and were making some other distinction.

    As for the "public domain exemption", we didn't write the rules. But that is our understanding of them.
  • HEY, WTF??? I never intended to say Paparazzi is not a real autopilot. Then SLUGS Team jumps on the bandwagon to berate me based on Chris' comment that I indicated Paparazzi is not a real AP.

    I'm just a little sore that I have to jump through all these $%^^& hoops to sell AttoPilot outside USA/Canada... sore because I'm short on $ and my biggest sales are going to be to a few overseas UAV companies. So because I have to play by certain rules I'm wondering why others get a magical exemption because they made their stuff open source. How is this a get out of jail free card? Isn't the point of export control to make sure bad people don't use this technology for armaments?
  • The NASA example you provide is interesting, but I suspect that it is only one example and may be taken out of context. For example, if I possess classified information that a foreign government shouldn't have, but I want to give it to them, I don't get to publish it in the local paper to ensure it falls under the public domain idea presented here.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter until it gets to court for some reason, and I suspect that day is far off or not coming for a variety of reasons...

    As for Paparazzi being real or not, Dean may have meant that it was developed out of the U.S. as well, and therefore isn't germaine to the ITAR discussion.
  • I completely agree with Chris. And I don't think I understand your point. You are inferring one thing from a previous statement I posted on a comment. When i said that whatever will be (or already is) implemented is in open literature, I mentioned this to make a point that nothing on the AP was "proprietary" in any way.

    Paparazzi is as "real" as an AP gets. I've been working with UAV autopilots since 2001 and again, I do not understand why you say that Paparazzi is not a real AP. Why are we doing another AP? Because we want to build a platform where conducting research is more friendly and easier to go from simulation to actual implementation. But again this is not a turn-key solution but rather a research platform. Sure we'll provide binaries and code of a working AP, but we believe that if you have the tools (Simulink, the embedded coder, etc.) and know what you are doing, should be easy to try out different algorithms.

    ArduPilot is also a good example of a platform that is under development and one which I am sure will also succeed as a turn-key solution for someone who wants an AP to fly their amateur (or pro) AP. If you've been following this site, I am sure you read that the prototype boards sold out!
  • 3D Robotics
    Dean, material in the public domain is exempt from ITAR. See this for an example. You mentioned Paparazzi, but then suggested that it wasn't a "real" autopilot. Were you just referring to commerical autopilots?

    BTW, I fully accept that our own public domain code isn't a "real autopilot" yet. But there are literally dozens of autopilot code bases on SourceForge that are open source and far more sophisticated.
  • Why do people seem to think that if the knowledge is in the open literature, then it is like a patent... meaning essentially public owned, and therefore not subject to export restriction? I realize that Paparazzi code is published, but other than that I know of no actual code published and ready to implement. For example, there are many open papers for the Kestrel, however what is published is MatLab code.... not C code for the actual autopilot. I just don't believe for a minute that any "real" autopilot is actually openly published. Prove me wrong.
  • @András
    The reason there are no ITAR or other export control issues with the MircoPilot is because it is not manufactured or developed in the United States, the company that makes them is based in Canada.
  • @bcr
    I just contacted AD, and my research advisor knows a guy...
    It is sweet. Nice little INS in a 1 in^3 package!
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