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Penguin high-flyers: Andrew Tridgell on the Linux autopilot

The only way is up for open source, says ArduPilot dev

By Lester Haines, 20 Jan 2015

Vid The indefatigable Andrew Tridgell popped up at linux.conf.au in new Zealand last week, where he delivered an entertaining presentation on the state of play of porting ArduPilot to Linux.

ArduPilot is the open source software which controls our own Vulture 2 spaceplane on the 3DR Pixhawk autopilot. As Tridge demonstrated, it can now be deployed on a range of hardware which, with the addition of a suitable interface, allows aficionados to create a fully-functioning autopilot.

Last year, for example, a group of Russians successfully raised funds for the Navio, an autopilot shield for the Raspberry Pi.

As part of his talk, Tridge connected live to a model aircraft in Canberra, in this case equipped with an embedded Linux box - the BeagleBone Black - coupled to a PixHawk Fire Cape (PXF).

This hook-up was of particular interest to the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team since our own flight in New Mexico will feature a similar remote link, with Tridge on his sofa in Canberra monitoring the Vulture 2's status in real time.*

It's audacious stuff, and Tridge's linux.conf.au outing demonstrated just how quickly open source autopilot tech is moving. Evidently, porting ArduPilot to Linux is just part of a wider movement towards small vehicles running on the OS, and the Linux Foundation last year announced the launch of the Dronecode open source UAV platform project.

Tridge, meanwhile, will be at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Jose, California, at the end of March, where he'll be talking some more about ArduPilot on Linux and Dronecode. ®

Bootnotes

*See here for info on the ultra long range radio rig which will keep us connected to the distant Vulture 2.


The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator, sponsored by...

  • EXASOL logo
  • Pulse_Eight
  • SecQuest logo
  • Lucidica logo
  • NXT logo

...and with the invaluable support of...

  • Edge Research Laboratory logo
  • Space Graphic Solutions logo
  • 3D Robotics logo
  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo
  • Random Engineering logo

More from the lovely LOHAN:

  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • If you're new to LOHAN, seek out our mission summary for enlightenment.
  • There are photos our our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane here, and detailed structural plans here.
  • For your further viewing pleasure, we have all our photographic material stored on Flickr.
  • Our LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) videos live on YouTube.
  • We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

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