What it takes to create a full-featured UAV like ArduCopter 2

On the occasion of the first beta release of ArduCopter 2, I wanted to take a moment and talk about the teamwork that was required to get to this milestone.

There are many quadcopter projects out there, some of them excellent. But they are all, with the exception of the commercial Mikrokopter (which is impressive, but expensive and closed source), just RC aircraft. They're not UAVs, capable of fully autonomous flight with waypoints, mission planning, etc.

 

We're DIY Drones. We do UAVs, not just RC. Our multicopter had to be the real thing.

 

Going from RC to full UAV is no small task. Along with the basic RC functions, you need navigation algorithms, mission planning, comms, datalogging and analysis, all sorts of extra sensors and payload controls and desktop utilities that make this easy to use. So in this post, I wanted to credit all the teams that came together to make it happen.

 

What's different about ArduCopter 2 (as opposed to ArduCopter 1) is that it's built from the ground up on the APM codebase, which is a mature full UAV system that has been in development for several years. That means that it inherits all the sophisticated mission planning and comms technology that is in use already by thousands of APM users. It also means that ArduCopter 2 includes the works of scores of people from many teams around the world. Here are just a few:

 

  • The ArduCopter 2 team: Led by Jason Short, with heroic focus and vision. Much testing help from Jani Hirvinen and Jack Dunkle
  • The APM team: Led by Doug Weibel, this team includes Michael Smith, James Goppert, Jason Short, Andrew Tridgell, Ryan Beall and many others
  • The ArduCopter 1 team: Jani Hirvinen, Jose Julio, Sandro Benigno, Ted Carancho, and others
  • The ArduPirates team: Led by Norbert Machinek, who took the original ArduCopter 1 code and made it much better.
  • HK GCS: Paul Mather
  • Mission Planner: Michael Oborne
  • MAVLink team: Lorenz Meir et al
  • ArduCopter Heli team: Randy McKay et al
  • APM hardware team: Jordi Munoz, Jeff Taylor, Lorenzo Lopez et al
  • APM32 team: Led by Roberto Navoni

 

There are countless others who have made major contributions, but I wanted to give you just hint of the scale of teamwork that's required to release something as advanced as ArduCopter 2.  My huge thanks to everyone who got us here today!

 

 

 

 

Views: 621

Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on May 8, 2011 at 11:02am
Thank-you all for an amazing effort. You continue to push the boundries and I for one am most grateful.

Developer
Comment by Jason Short on May 8, 2011 at 11:26am

I learned a lot from Arducopter 1.0 and Jose's amazing work. Even though the code looks completely different. Many of the control laws are from his work. I wouldn't have bothered writing this had I not had access to good open source examples. 

Getting the copter flying well was pretty easy with Jose's examples. Getting the complexities of Mission planning and the lack of a good simulator is where all the extra time went.

 

Comment by Erez Ben-Eshay on May 8, 2011 at 2:07pm
I just got the code an going to try it soon, I am missing the DCM section can someone point me to where do you do the DCM routines  in the new version
Comment by Russell B. Sutton on May 8, 2011 at 2:23pm
Congrats! To everyone for there time well spent creating AC2 .    I Thank You and look forward to watching  AC2 grow to next level.   
Comment by Paul Thompson on May 8, 2011 at 4:50pm

Have to say It is amazing the amount of progress that has been made on the APM and ArduCopter2. I hope to have another quad up and running in the next few weeks so I can start flying the new code. Wish I had the knowledge to help out in the project, other than  flying and crash testing ;-)

Keep up the Excellent work guys!


Moderator
Comment by Mark Harrison on May 8, 2011 at 5:25pm
Congratulations to all and many thanks for your hard work.  You too Chris, even though you forgetfully neglected to mention yourself!!

Distributor
Comment by Dany Thivierge on May 8, 2011 at 6:06pm
very proud to be part of this amazing era, you guys are defining what the future will look like. People will look at this and decide that the platform is stable and mature. Great job all! I will upload the new code and fly very soon.

Developer
Comment by Doug Weibel on May 8, 2011 at 11:30pm
@Erez - the DCM is in the library now.

Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on May 9, 2011 at 2:35am

Thank Chris for you Post :) You and our group are doing a huge and great work. This is best way for meet people and doing new friends all around the world :)

Best

Roberto

Comment by Juan Soler on May 9, 2011 at 3:39pm
If you are going to include links to the MK options available try to at least compare apples with apples.  The link included above is misleading (perhaps intentionally).  I would like see what price will be asked for an Arducopter 2 "fully loaded" RTF like those MKs in the link supplied.  A more appropriate reference would have been to link to the kits in the MK shop (since the Arducopter is after all a KIT) but I can see this carries nowhere near the emotional value.

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