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!

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Hai Tran on May 9, 2011 at 6:39pm
Juan, I compared the two options before going down the Arducopter path, and I found the MK kits still more expensive.  The main circuitboard and ESCs are significantly more expensive.
Comment by Norbert Machinek on May 10, 2011 at 2:20pm

Yeah!

Thx to all the guys mentioned or unmentioned who spent their time, money, nerves and brain cells for this project!

It's been a long way and I've seen many users come and go. It took a year from the first code base to what we have now. But I think it was worth the waiting.

Besides the thought of participating in an open source development project I love the fact that I can build a Hexa with all bells & whistles for nearly half the price of a standard MK Hexa Kit. :)



Comment by Juan Soler on May 10, 2011 at 5:49pm
@ Tran....A)I already know this.  B)You missed the point of my post.  C)Read it again, slowly this time.   

BTW , I have both, and for professional use I will continue to choose MK for the forseeable future.  If you don't know why, you don't own an MK.

Not really rubishing the DIY effort here....it's just not as polished or stable.  But it is a nice item for tinkerers.

Comment by Denny Rowland on May 12, 2011 at 1:24pm
Amazing effort, I am so keen to try this out on one of my dev. models.
Comment by Denny Rowland on May 12, 2011 at 1:35pm
Well actually Juan, I have five MK boards plus several others that are more reliable and at least as good in terms of stability. When Holger realises that the AD 610 is crap .....  also, MK is not called the firework kit for nothing.
Comment by Juan Soler on May 13, 2011 at 3:57am

Good for you Denny!  Keep working at it.  You'll figure it out one day.  Buy another five boards and who knows...you might actually understand it by then. Although I very much doubt it.

You are soooo keen to try this out on one of your "dev" models LOL.

 

 

Comment by Denny Rowland on May 13, 2011 at 5:42am

I expect that I will keep working at it. I may even be able to sell those boards on to someone like you. I take it you do have some evidence of your MK success, if so, now would be a good time to educate us all. I love to see a little inspiration and encouragement shared out.

 

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