Leading open-source components for UAVs

DF creates and sustains communities around leading open-source projects

PX4 Autopilot

The PX4 Autopilot provides guidance, navigation, and control algorithms for autonomous fixed wing, multirotor, and VTOL airframes, along with estimators for attitude and position.

MAVLink

Feature complete and fully customizable control station for MAVLink based UAVs. It can be used to update, configure, and tune an airframe. The control station has a mighty mission planner and tracks missions. 

MAVSDK

Feature complete and fully customizable control station for MAVLink based UAVs. It can be used to update, configure, and tune an airframe. The control station has a mighty mission planner and tracks missions. 

QGroundControl

Feature complete and fully customizable control station for MAVLink based UAVs. It can be used to update, configure, and tune an airframe. The control station has a mighty mission planner and tracks missions. 

QGroundControl

Communication protocols

Communications between the flight stack and ground control currently use MAVLink. In future protocols like RTPS are expected to provide more configurable messaging between the drone, GCS, cloud, and between processes running on the vehicle.

MAVLink

The Micro Air Vehicle Communication Protocol (MAVLink) is a lightweight, header-only message marshaling library for micro air vehicles. It is widely used for communicating commands and telemetry between ground stations and autopilots (it is also the protocol used by DroneKit to communicate with vehicles). The protocol is currently being updated to support signing/authentication and other features that are becoming increasingly important.

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UAVCAN

UAVCAN is an open lightweight protocol designed for reliable intravehicular communication in aerospace and robotic applications over CAN bus, Ethernet, and other robust transports. It is created to address the challenge of deterministic on-board data exchange between systems and components of next-generation intelligent vehicles: manned and unmanned aircraft, spacecraft, robots, and cars.

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Fast RTPS (DDS)

The PX4-Fast RTPS(DDS) Bridge, also referred to as the microRTPS bridge, adds a real-time Publish-Subscribe (RTPS) interface to the PX4 Autopilot enabling the exchange of uORB messages between the various PX4 Autopilot internal components and (offboard) Fast DDS applications in real-time.

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Hardware

The Dronecode Foundation hosts the Pixhawk Special Interest Group coordination calls and is in charge of the Pixhawk Program that helps manufacturers adopt Pixhawk Open Standards, and get access to the Pixhawk Trademark.

Pixhawk Open Standards

The Pixhawk open standards provide readily available hardware specifications and guidelines for drone systems development.

  • Accelerate time to market with reference designs
  • Reduce R&D overheads with jointly engineered solutions
  • Scale product interoperability with the ecosystem

A decade of rich history and a fast-growing community

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Simulation

Flexible simulation framework allows the easy addition of new simulation backends

Microsoft AirSim

AirSim is a simulator for drones, cars, and more, built on Unreal Engine. It is open-source, cross-platform, and supports software-in-the-loop simulation with popular flight controllers such as PX4 with hardware-in-loop for physically and visually realistic simulations.

Gazebo

The gazebo simulator is a powerful 3D simulation environment for autonomous robots, well suited for testing object avoidance and computer vision, with full PX4 compatibility.

jMAVSim

jMAVSim is a simple multirotor/Quad simulator that allows you to fly copter-type vehicles running PX4 around a simulated world. It is easy to set up and can be used to test that your vehicle can take off fly, land, and responds appropriately to various fail conditions (e.g. GPS failure).

JSBSim

JSBSim is an open-source flight simulator that runs on multiple OS platforms. Its features include fully configurable aerodynamics and propulsion system that can model complex flight dynamics of an aircraft. Rotational earth effects are also modeled into the dynamics.

Developer APIs

The APIs enable developers to create custom applications outside the flight stack via rich and robust interfaces.

MAVSDK

The MAVSDK project is a standards-compliant MAVLink Library with APIs for commonly used programming languages like C++, Swift, and Python. It’s the easiest way to integrate with drones over MAVLink, trusted by leading organizations in the industry.

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Robot Operating System (ROS)

The interface is a translation layer between ROS 2 and PX4 that provides a bridge between PX4 uORB messages and ROS 2 messages and types, effectively allowing direct access to PX4 from ROS 2 workflows and nodes. The bridge uses uORB message definitions and correspondent IDL types to generate code to serialize and deserialize the messages heading in and out of PX4.

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