Articles for June 2015

Multi-beam Laser for Forward Looking Obstacle Detection along the Flight Path.

Laser range finders can be very effective in detecting even small obstacles at long distances from a moving UAV. To cover large areas the laser beam is usually scanned by direct drive or using mirrors. As an alternative to this approach, we present a multi-beam solution that has no moving parts and is therefore smaller and lighter than a scanning system. This new configuration, called the SF33, is ideal for “forward looking” obstacle detection along the flight path.

Starting with the electronics from our SF30 laser module, we added two additional laser sensors into the existing housing to create the 3-beam pattern that you can see in the picture above. These beams have 5 degrees of angular separation resulting in a fan shape that spreads out with distance. The beams can be arranged to give either a horizontal or a vertical pattern depending on how the housing is oriented, or they can be aimed 45 degrees downwards to give a “look ahead” indication of both obstacles and rising ground.

The SF33 is scorchingly fast so we are able to measure by cycling through each beam in succession to get independent distance results. In our prototype we set the cycling rate to 3000 times per second so that each beam could detect power lines from a UAV moving at 60 kph.

The “elastic band test” has become the benchmark for high speed obstacle detection, so we subjected the multi-beam laser to this indignity. We were expecting the elastic band to be detected three times as it passed through each of the three beams.

In the ‘scope image below, the orange trace gives the distance as an analog voltage and the blue trace is a digital alarm signal that goes low when an obstacle gets too close. You can clearly see three sets of alarm events, one from each beam, as the elastic band shoots past.

We also need to consider that the beams are cycling 3000 times per second, so as the elastic band passes through the first beam, the second and third beams are still checking for other potential obstacles. This effect manifests as “gaps” in the alarm signal as can be seen in the zoomed-in traces of the first set of alarm events.

In this image, the three beams cycled 12 times as the elastic band traveled through the first beam. The alarm signal shows a 1:3 mark (low) space (high) ratio as beams 2 and 3 interleave their measurements with beam 1. A similar picture was produced by the elastic band as it traveled through the other beams.

The elastic band test clearly demonstrates that the SF33 multi-beam laser has adequate speed to detect obstacles with a high relative velocity and we have confirmed a useable range of around 50m when measuring to larger obstacles.

At this stage of development we can still make hardware and software changes. I know that a number of forum members have experimented with obstacle detection using lasers, so any suggestions on how to integrate multiple distance readings and alarm events into a meaningful communication message to the flight controller would be most welcome.

Special thanks to Jordi Munoz for his support and technical input on this project.

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This Week: Drone vs. shotgun; FAA vs. NFL; robobees vs. pollen; Tom Cruise vs. drones; all of us vs. that fake viral video

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Question of the week 

Shotguns. Snoops. Surveillance. So many stories in recent weeks have been calling attention to the public’s growing skepticism of drone technology. As a company on the advancing edge, we understand and anticipate this kind of resistance to new technology as part of the natural ebb and flow of things. We also see it as our mission to help relieve the stress of this skepticism with the massage of messaging.

So I’d like to know: As you read through the stories this week, which seem to strike you as raising particularly pertinent worries, or as patently ridiculous ones? What would you say in response to these stories, and to the legitimate concerns that many of them address?

I’m interested in your commentary on this week’s collection. Leave your remarks below!

And now, the links that matter:



“When you fly…we CAN’T!” So went a tweet from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection after a consumer drone grounded firefighting helicopters preparing to execute water drops on a wildfire. A drone in the vicinity “Puts our pilots lives at risk,” they continued. (LA Times)

In New York, Dave Beesmer (aka “Front Row Dave”) was acquitted of using his drone to “spy” on a hospital. He was taking pictures of the structure to give to the hospital for promotional materials. The ruling is significant in that existing privacy laws were brought to bear on drone technology, resulting not in the conviction but the acquittal of the accused. (Daily Freeman)

Wimbledrone: Authorities noticed a drone flying over the Wimbledon grounds last week and seized it for “flying within 50m of a structure.” They tracked the operator down, who was piloting from a nearby golf course. Wimbledon begins this week. (BBC)

A drone was reported in a near-miss at London’s Heathrow Airport. The UK Airprox Board said they never found the pilot of the device—which they say could have been a balloon, but was most likely a drone. The device was reportedly sighted at 1,700 feet, well above the UK’s 400-foot limit. (The Standard)

Boston will ban drones for its 4th of July events—not even the police will be allowed to fly. (Fortune)


Analysis and culture

I regret that the best details don’t fit here, but trust that this full story won’t let you down. Last November a man in rural California used a shotgun to take down his neighbor’s drone, saying he thought it was a “CIA surveillance device.” The drone owner sued for damages—the drone was over his own property—and this week was rewarded in full. (Ars Technica)

In Australia, news broke earlier this year about the horrific and rampant “live-baiting” of greyhounds in the dog racing business. Racing Queensland—the state’s racing authority—will use drones to help monitor the properties where greyhounds are raised and trained. Racing Queensland already uses drones to film some races, and so have discovered this second valuable use. (Business Insider)

Dronegate? In a confluence of everybody’s favorite American organizations, the FAA is looking into three NFL teams—the Cowboys, Giants and Patriots—for using drones to film their practices without obtaining the official exemptions necessary. (NBC) 

The Washington Post asks, “Do drones make sense for farming?” “It’s been very hard for farmers to conceptualize savings and an increase in their production from UAV technology,” said PrecisionHawk communications director Lia Reich. “We really wanted to help give a deep dive into understanding that return that farmers have for a UAV investment that a lot of farmers see as a large investment at this point.” Some claim that drones can reduce farming inputs by 20% and increase output by 20%.

Drones might finally silence those awful blueberry cannons once and for all. Blueberry farmers in Vancouver want to use drones to keep the birds at bay during harvest: “We want it to fly around, scare the daylights out of the birds—especially the starlings—and keep them nervous enough to stay away during harvest,” said Baumann. Currently the cheapest way to keep birds out of the berries is by firing loud blasts from propane cannons. Nearby towns have protested the cannons, which can be quite loud, but the ministry of agriculture allows them to be fired about every five minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. during harvest season, which can last more than three months. (Vancouver Sun)


High Tech

A robotics team at Harvard is trying to make robobees. These double-entendre drones will be programmed to cooperate in swarms, with possible applications in automatic pollination, search and rescue, climate mapping and more. (

This surging anti-drone privacy movement means that drone detection—using audio, radio, thermal and video tracking—could be big business. (Tech.Co)

But all you expert pilots out there might soon also be hearing that old “ka-ching,” yourselves: Fly4Me, an “Uber for drones,” got the nod from the FAA earlier this year and launched in beta this past week. Fly4Me pairs experienced drone pilots with people who need drone services. (Popular Science)

A drone that can survive the arctic. Laval University’s “Argo” drone can survive the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean, diving to depths of almost 2,000 m to collect data about marine life. Scientists believe that Argo will improve our understanding of the Arctic marine ecosystem and help us track the effects of climate change. (

May the open source be with you: Now you can 3D print your own Millennium Falcon drone. (



Here’s a drone flythrough of an enormous Japanese solar power plant. (RT)

Remember that viral video from last week, the one with a drone ripping the wingtip off of a commercial airliner? Well, it was fake—essentially an ad for a VFX studio—and this is how they did it. (YouTube)

And I don’t know where else to put this. Doesn’t really fit under “culture.” But here: Tom Cruise will apparently reprise his role as “Maverick” in the Top Gun sequel, which pits the aging pilot (in aging planes) against drones. The script is currently in the hands of Justin Marks, whom you probably remember as the writer of Street Fighter II: The Legend of Chun-Li. You can be my wingunmanned-aerial-vehicle anytime. (Rolling Stone)

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Harvard Robobees

Led by Robert Wood, Harvard University is trying to make Robobees

INSPIRED by the biology of a bee and the insect’s hive behavior …

we aim to push advances in miniature robotics and the design of compact high-energy power sources; spur innovations in ultra-low-power computing and electronic “smart” sensors; and refine coordination algorithms to manage multiple, independent machines.

Practical Applications

Coordinated agile robotic insects can be used for a variety of purposes including:

  • autonomously pollinating a field of crops;
  • search and rescue (e.g., in the aftermath of a natural disaster);
  • hazardous environment exploration;
  • military surveillance;
  • high resolution weather and climate mapping; and
  • traffic monitoring.

These are the ubiquitous applications typically invoked in the development of autonomous robots. However, in mimicking the physical and behavioral robustness of insect groups by coordinating large numbers of small, agile robots, we will be able to accomplish such tasks faster, more reliably, and more efficiently.

Vision and Aims

The collaborators envision that the Nature-inspired research could lead to a greater understanding of how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and “intelligence” of a bee colony; foster novel methods for designing and building an electronic surrogate nervous system able to deftly sense and adapt to changing environments; and advance work on the construction of small-scale flying mechanical devices.

More broadly, the scientists anticipate the devices will open up a wide range of discoveries and practical innovations, advancing fields ranging from entomology and developmental biology to amorphous computing and electrical engineering.

Through a relationship with the Museum of Science, Boston, the team will also create an interactive exhibit to teach and inspire future scientists and engineers.

Body, Brain, and Colony

From flies to fish to lobsters, small insects and animals have long been ideal models for roboticists and computer scientists. Bees, for example, possess unmatched elegance in flight, zipping from flower to flower with ease and hovering stably with heavy payloads.


By leveraging existing breakthroughs from Professor Wood’s Microrobotics Lab, which conducted the first successful flight of a life-sized robotic fly in 2007, the team will explore ways to emulate such aerobatic feats in their proposed devices. In addition, achieving autonomous flight will require compact high-energy power sources and associated electronics, integrated seamlessly into the ‘body’ of the machine.


One of the most complicated areas of exploration the scientists will undertake will be the creation of a suite of artificial “smart” sensors, akin to a bee’s eyes and antennae. Professor Wei explains that the ultimate aim is to design dynamic hardware and software that serves as the device’s ‘brain,’ controlling and monitoring flight, sensing objects such as fellow devices and other objects, and coordinating simple decision-making.


Finally, to mimic the sophisticated behavior of a real colony of insects will involve the development of sophisticated coordination algorithms, communications methods (i.e., the ability for individual machines to ‘talk’ to one another and the hive), and global-to-local programming tools to simulate the ways groups of real bees rely upon one another to scout, forage, and plan.

The Team

The investigators, primarily based at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will coordinate efforts with faculty from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard and Northeastern University’s Department of Biology.

In addition, Centeye, a microelectronics firm in Washington, D.C., specializing in vision chip and visual sensor technology, will contribute technical knowledge.

A number of the collaborators are core faculty members of the newly created Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. As the work fits particularly well with Wyss’s mission of “creating new materials and devices using Nature’s design principles,” the Institute, along with SEAS, will play a critical role in supporting the research, providing laboratory space and in-kind financial support.


Harvard is one of three lead institutions receiving the latest round of awards under the NSF’s Expeditions in Computing program.

The program, established last year by the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), provides the CISE research and education community with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, fundamental research agendas that promise to define the future of computing and information and render great benefit to society. Funded at levels up to $2,000,000 per year for five years, Expeditions represent some of the largest single investments currently made by the directorate.

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Intro to BoxBotix and BBots

Just letting folks know what we have been up to over the last year or so.  Finally getting close to something we can release.  Essentially an all open source hardware modular robotics platform.  The short version is it’s a BrainBox that can accept several different modules so it can be configured as a plane/copter/rover/whatever.

  Figured it was about time the community had a modular frame system to match the different flavors of autopilot code.  Still lots to do before we can release anything.  I have been involved with a few online communities and open source software projects and know it can turn into a big mess in a hurry.  Trying to avoid that if we can.  Also need to decide on a proper open hardware license.  Feedback welcome.

  I run a small shop and stay very busy so might be a bit slow responding. 


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Woman knocked out by drone at Seattle Pride parade

Something like this was bound to happen with the mass market of drones to people not having safety in mind.

By Stephanie Klein, Editor | June 29, 2015

A woman was knocked unconscious by a small drone at Seattle’s Pride parade on Sunday.

Police say she was in the crowd near 4th Avenue and Madison when the drone crashed into a nearby building and fell onto the woman. Her boyfriend caught her as she crumpled to the ground.

An off-duty firefighter treated the woman and called for police.

Full story here Drone crash

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Drones in Environmental Research conference at Liverpool JMU

Liverpool John Moores University are holding their second conference on the use of drones in environmental research on July the 7th and 8th. There are some great pieces of research being presented and it should be a very interesting couple of days.

I’m presenting my own research on the first day which hopefully should be of interest to some people. It will be great just to talk to other people involved in UAV research. If anyone else fancies attending you can buy tickets (£50 per day) from the  Liverpool John Moores events website

Below is a timetable for the two days. It would be great to chat to some DIYDrones heads at the event 🙂  

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Hexacopter vs shotgun (court rules in favor of copter!)

A Pixhawk-powered hexacopter had an encounter with an overzealous and somewhat paranoid neighbor. Ars Technica tells the story:

That day, Eric Joe skipped Black Friday lines and instead went home to visit his parents. During the afternoon, Joe flew what he described to Ars as a homemade hexacopter drone. His aerial device hovered low and moved slow, logging just three and a half minutes of flight time in total.

Then, bang. A loud boom rang out over the neighboring walnut trees. Growing up on a farm, Joe instantly recognized the sound as a 12-gauge shotgun. The unknown shooter hit his apparent target in a single attempt, and Joe soon watched his drone fall from the sky.

“When I went out to go find it, I saw him come out shotgun-in-hand,” Joe told Ars by phone on Thursday. The man found himself face-to-face with his parents’ neighbor, Brett McBay.

“I asked: ‘Did you shoot that thing?’ He said, ‘Yeah, did we get it?’”

Joe claimed that McBay said: “I thought it was a CIA surveillance device.” No matter the reason, the drone pilot wanted to resolve this encounter quickly and civilly (“I didn’t want to get argumentative with a guy with a shotgun,” Joe said). He went back inside and inspected the aircraft. It wouldn’t be flying again. Later that evening, the two men exchanged e-mails.

Joe started the conversation:

It was nice to meet you and your son. I wish it could have been under different circumstances, but I have to give credit to the McBay school of marksmanship. Still, I’m pretty bummed that I just built this hexacopter only to have it shot down. Also, it was a little disconcerting to know that the spread of the birdshot/buckshot was in my direction. In any case, I had a chance to test the components of the downed hexacopter. Good news is that the more expensive components (on the inside of the frame) are in tact. Stuff on the outside of the frame took the most damage.

Joe included an itemized list of the damaged parts, which rounded up to an even $700.

McBay responded:

With all do [sic] respect $700 dollars seems excessive. Perhaps in SF it’s normal for folks to have drones hovering over their property but we live in the country for privacy. I will be willing to split the cost with you but next time let us know your testing surveillance equipment in our area. I’ll drop a check of [sic] this afternoon.

Joe wrote back:

I’m sorry, but I must insist on full payment for equipment you damaged, as you shot it when it was above my property. The aircraft’s GPS data positions it clearly above our orchard. Additionally, the hexacopter crashed next to our driveway, ~203 feet (per Google Maps) from the dirt road that separates our respective properties.

I also dispute your characterization that I was “testing surveillance equipment.” There was no camera on the hexacopter, and had a camera been mounted, the price for repairs would have been an extra $300. Just as you asked me to give the courtesy of notifying you of my flying activities, I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction. This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we’re currently discussing.

I’m hoping to resolve this in a civil manner. An entirely new rig would have cost $1500. Instead, I’m just asking that you pay for what you broke. Let me know if you wish to discuss further.

Three minutes later, McBay replied. “Your facts are incorrect, I’m considering the matter now closed.”

Joe disagreed. In early 2015, he filed a case in a Stanislaus County small claims court. Late last month, the court found in his favor.

“Court finds that Mr. McBay acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not,” the Stanislaus County Court Small Claims Division found.

Joe won $850, but McBay has yet to pay. If McBay does not pay by the end of the month, Joe and his attorney told Ars that they will pursue further legal action to collect the money. 

“We don’t believe that the drone was over McBay’s property—we maintain that it was briefly over the shared county access road,” said Jesse Woo, Joe’s cousin and attorney. “But even if it did, you’re only privileged to use reasonable force in defense of property. Shooting a shotgun at this thing that isn’t threatening your property isn’t reasonable.”

McBay did not respond to Ars’ repeated attempts to reach him by e-mail, phone, and text message.

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Parrot, Team Blacksheep, Walkera and others join DroneCode!

Exciting news from the DroneCode Project, which today announced six new members, bringing the total to nearly 30 companies, representing the majority of the consumer, commercial and research drone industry outside of DJI.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes on the software side, and you’ll see big news from these companies soon.

Open Source Dronecode Project Attracts New Investment and Members

Drone Software Platform Evolving Quickly, Driving Cutting-Edge Advancements in Vision Processing and Obstacle Avoidance

San Francisco, June 29, 2015 – Dronecode, the nonprofit organization developing a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), today announced six new commercial members and several nonprofit and academic drone projects that are supporting the effort.

New silver members announced today include Arsov RC Technology, Erle Robotics, Event 38 Unmanned Systems, Parrot, Team Black Sheep and Walkera.

New sponsor members include OpenRelief, Open Source Robotics Foundation, The Autonomous Systems, Control, and Optimization Laboratory (ASCO) at Johns Hopkins, Team Tiltrotor and Uplift Aeronautics.

Formed in late 2014, Dronecode brings together existing open source drone projects and assets under one umbrella organization governed by The Linux Foundation. It currently coordinates and prioritizes funding for six initiatives, 28 Dronecode members and more than 1,200 developers who are collaborating on a de facto standard platform for consumer and commercial drone/robotics open projects. 

Dronecode’s significant influx of financial and technical support is driving rapid, diverse UAV progress in areas like vision processing, obstacle avoidance, and environmental and situational awareness. While still a nascent market, industry experts estimate that the commercial drone market will reach $1.27 billion by 2020. Backing for Dronecode is taking off as many begin pursuing drones for humanitarian aid, ecological, agriculture, logistics and parcel delivery purposes.

We’re thrilled to welcome today’s new members and sponsors so soon after forming Dronecode as a neutral, transparent initiative for advancing UVA technology,” said Amanda McPherson, Chief Marketing Officer at The Linux Foundation. “Their participation affirms the collaborative development model, enabling more parties to provide resources and support to the already vibrant drone community. From improving wildlife protection and search and rescue, to 3-D mapping and precision farming, drones can change our world for both goodwill and economic gains.

Arsov RC Technology: designs and manufactures PX4 compatible flight controllers and other electronic accessories used in UAV vehicles.

Erle Robotics: focuses on making Linux-based artificial brains for robots and drones. They also design, construct and deliver different robots based in Linux.

“We are delighted to join the Dronecode Foundation and collaborate pushing forward the next generation of robots and drones. Linux-based, low-cost and affordable robots, together with the creativity and passion of thousands of developers, will lead the next technological revolution,” said Víctor Mayoral Vilches, CTO of Erle Robotics.

Event 38 Unmanned Systems: provides high endurance UAVs, optical sensors and its cloud based Drone Data Management SystemTM designed specifically for aerial photogrammetry and map making. Its UAVs feature easy-to-use autonomous operation, extended flight times, and large payloads for the agriculture and surveying markets around the world.

We are excited to officially join the Dronecode Foundation and look forward to helping shape the future of open source drone technologies,” said Jeff Taylor, Founder, Event 38 Unmanned Systems Inc.

Parrot: Headquartered in Paris, Parrot creates, develops and markets advanced technology wireless products for consumers and professionals. The company innovates and develops in the civil drones market with leisure quadcopters and solutions for professional use. Parrot continues to expand in the commercial drone market, building out its expertise and focus on three target markets:

  • Geographic information systems (GIS) for the environment, mining / quarrying and city planning sectors,
  • Surveillance of sensitive areas (warehouses, industrial sites, hypermarkets), protected locations (natural environments) or accident sites (disasters), 
  • Precision farming, made possible by the combination of drones, sensors and algorithms for conversion into agricultural recommendations.

The market for consumer-friendly drones is skyrocketing,” said Henri Seydoux, Founder and CEO of Parrot. “Consumers have a strong appetite for UAV novelty; drones that don’t just only fly, but also do amazing videos, jump, skim the ocean and maneuver at night with headlights. Linux and open source are leading the way, and we’re excited to collaborate with other drone companies, universities, and nonprofit organizations to advance the technology even further.

Team Black Sheep: was founded out of passion for “First Person View” aerial videos broadcasting live from above. Known for trilling YouTube videos shot all over the world, the company sells FPV aircrafts and accessories. 

Consumer drones have fundamentally changed the way we shoot videos and see the earth from above,” said Raphael Pirker, Pilot at TBS Avionics. “We are happy to recognize that open source software has spearheaded the technology and our industry. At TBS, we want to be a part of this development and help shape the way that people use drones in the near future.

Walkera: a professional aero-model manufacturer based in China with offices in the United States that unifies UAV product research and development, production, marketing, and services. The company also recently introduced the DroneCode APM copter, the QR x350 Premium, the first model of the iUAS 2015 series.

We believe Dronecode Project is off to a strong start managing, guiding and aligning resources to best advance the drone revolution,” said Lucy Chen, President at Walkera. “It’s providing a clear path for corporate and open source collaboration and innovation, and we’re excited to share our drone expertise with this growing initiative.


More about today’s new sponsored members:

OpenRelief: provides open, crowd-sourced information solutions for disaster relief, enabling the right aid gets to the right places when needed. OpenRelief uses an open source approach that ensures everyone, anywhere, can access its technology.

Open Source Robotics Foundation: is a nonprofit organization that supports the development, distribution and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education and product development.

By working with Dronecode, we’ll be able to make our tools even more useful for UAV projects,” said Tully Foote, ROS Platform Manager at OSRF. “With demand for ROS and Gazebo in UAV development on the rise, Dronecode and OSRF are natural partners. The alliance will organically stimulate greater sharing of knowledge, tools and capabilities between the general robotics and aerial robotics communities.

Team Tiltrotor: is an Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) initiative from aerospace engineers Trevor Strand and Mike Remaly to develop APM-powered tiltrotors. Tiltrotors combine the qualities of vertical lift for low speed vertical landings and forward thrust for high speed, long range airplane flight.

As today’s small, affordable drones progress from toys to tools, the tiltrotor will fill roles that  traditional fixed wing and multirotor cannot,” said Team Tiltrotor.

The Autonomous Systems, Control, and Optimization Laboratory (ASCO) at Johns Hopkins: is part of the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics (LCSR) and is focused on creating robots with unprecedented agility and robustness that can fully exploit their dynamical and sensing abilities to operate in natural environments.

Robotics is an exciting, fast-growing industry that greatly benefits from working with other engineers, developers and commercial parties to help advance the design and usefulness of such systems as quickly as possible,” said Marin Kobilarov, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. “With so much UAV innovation happening in all corners of the world, Dronecode plays an important role transforming research and ideas into real-world applications.

Uplift Aeronautics: is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to empower and aid communities through innovative aviation technology. Uplift is run entirely by volunteers who are passionate about helping communities develop sustainable aviation solutions that help address social problems. They have a special interest in reaching inaccessible or hard-to-access populations.

Uplift Aeronautics has been steadily improving its fixed-wing cargo delivery capabilities,” said Mark Jacobsen, Founder, Uplift Aeronautics. “It recently flew a 130km sortie with its Waliid aircraft, a variant of the X-UAV Talon, delivering a 1kg package by parachute at the 70km point. Uplift also developed and tested a lighting system that can be toggled on and off by the autopilot, which could be useful for covert deliveries of humanitarian supplies in conflict zones. Uplift is also developing a custom MAVProxy module called ‘testpilot’ that automatically generates attractive reports with flight performance tables and plots like power, endurance, and range at various airspeeds. Testpilot can be used to compare different configurations of an aircraft and optimize an aircraft for maximum performance.

3DRobotics and Yuneec International Co. Ltd. are Platinum, founding members of Dronecode, which includes the APM/ArduPilot open source UAV platform, andPX4, an independent, open-source, open-hardware autopilot project. More than 1,200 developers are working on Dronecode with more than 150 code commits a day on some projects. Under the neutral guidance of Dronecode, other qualified parties and developers are encouraged to participate in the development and direction of the software. 


About Dronecode Project

Dronecode Foundation is a nonprofit organization working on a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Dronecode brings together existing and future open source UAV software projects, including the APM UAV software platform originally developed by 3DRobotics. More than 1,200 developers are working on Dronecode’s six projects focused on maximizing adoption of the project’s cost-effective, reliable and technologically advanced UAV software. A Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, Dronecode is an independently funded software project that harnesses the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems.


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UgCS 2.4 Is Live!

For those who have missed it – the newest version of UgCS – 2.4 is live and available on Windows, Mac and Linux!

UgCS 2.4 makes drones smarter and more agile than before. The most important new features are that it allows import of custom terrain elevation models, 3D building models which make the drone more aware of what`s around it.

Terrain elevation models allow safe flying in hazardous areas such as mountains where the terrain is tricky. These can be imported as .tif files. 3D buildings can be imported either from Google Earth or even created by the operator. The buildings can be imported as .kmz files.

No-fly zones have also been implemented in UgCS. UgCS 2.4 comes with in-built Aerodrome NFZ to make flying safer. UgCS One and Pro versions also offer the possibility of creating custom NFZ and even disabling the in-built ones.

Futhermore, the video feature has been improved, video can now not only be streamed directly into UgCS in real time from a GoPro camera or other source, it can also be recorded and saved onto the computer.

Also, the mission creation process has now become a lot easier, waypoints can be created by just double-clicking on the map. The shift+click feature for creating waypoints is still there. The double-click feature makes using UgCS on Windows tablets possible.

Also, now the waypoints are created at the height of the previous waypoint, meaning that the operator no longer needs to specify an altitude for each one, making route creation a lot faster.

With UgCS 2.4 also comes support for helicopter vehicles equipped with Pixhawk / APM, “Upload to Droneshare” button for easy sharing and saving of missions, map placemarks, improved landing for fixed-wing aircraft and other new features and fixes.

UgCS 2.4 can be dowloaded from

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