3D Robotics is the leading open source unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology company. It was founded in 2009 by Chris Anderson (founder of DIY Drones) and Jordi Munoz, and today is a professional, venture-backed enterprise with more than 70 employees across three offices in San Diego (engineering), Berkeley (business and sales) and Tijuana (manufacturing).
3D Robotics designs and manufactures electronics and aerial vehicles, including multicopters and airplanes. It created the APM autopilot line, along with the ArduCopter and ArduPlane UAVs. It is the commercial sponsor of the DIY Drones community and the exclusive manufacturing partner of the Pixhawk UAV research team at the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).
They want to take toys (flying radio controlled planes) and add brains.
He started 5 years ago with lego and made a uav autopilot for a radio controlled plane.
He created DIY Drones for a large community of people to share the work and efforts to make drones.
He is taking military grade technology at toy prices.
Personal camera droid. Push a button and have a flying droid take off and film you from the air and follow you around.
We are now using cellphone technology for inexpensive commercial drones. There is something magic going on in your pocket [the smartphone]. It’s the peace dividend of the smart phone wars. With a $90 drone, they don’t have to come back. You can double the range when they don’t have to come back. You can waste drones to get the job done. That’s what we did in Silicon Valley with transistors, and now we can do it with robotics.
DARPA just made a guidance chip that is smaller than a dime that has acceleromaters and gyros. The autopilot could go from $179 to less than a dollar.
Clearly the super-easy, super cheap drone revolution is coming
What does DIY Drones have to offer?
The DIY Drones community has created the world’s first “universal autopilot”, ArduPilot Mega (APM). It combines sophisticated IMU-based autopilot electronics with free Arduino-based autopilot software that can turn any RC vehicle into a fully-autonomous UAV.
A full setup consists of:
APM 2.5 autopilot: The electronics, including twin processors, gyros, accelerometers, pressure sensors, GPS and more (shown below). Available from 3D Robotics ($179).
Mission Planner software: Desktop software that lets you manage APM and plan missions, along with being a powerful ground station during flights and helping you analyze mission logs afterwards.
Arduplane: for any fixed-wing aircraft
Arducopter: for any rotary-wing aircraft
ArduRover: for any ground- or water-based vehicle
DIY drones can be used for farmers to survey crops to spot dark areas where fungus could be growing so they when and where to spray fungicide.
Drones can be used to take an aerial view of tomato crops to know when to harvest.
What is ArduCopter?
ArduCopter is an easy to set up and easy to fly platform for multirotors and helicopters. Its features go far beyond the basic manual control RC multicopters on the market today. Unlike RC-only multicopters, ArduCopter is complete UAV solution, offering both remote control and autonomous flight, including waypoints, mission planning and telemetry displayed on a powerful ground station.
ArduCopter is on the cutting edge of aerial robotics and intended for those people who want to try advanced technology, leading edge techniques and new flight styles.
The Arducopter project is based on the APM 2.x autopilot created by the DIY Drones community.
ArduCopter frames and other parts are made by jDrones Asia and 3D Robotics. Read more about purchasing one on the Get it! page.
All but the smallest Multicopters and Helicopters can be easily upgraded to full UAV capability with APM 2.x.
*High quality autolevel and auto altitude control – fly level and straight. Or fly the awesome “simple flight” mode, which makes ArduCopter one of the easiest multicopter to fly. Don’t worry about keeping an eye on your multicopter’s orientation–let the computer figure it out! You just push the stick the way you want to go, and the autopilot figures out what that means for whatever orientation the copter is in, using its onboard magnetometer. “Front”, “back”…who cares? Just fly!
* No programming required. Just use an easy-to-use desktop utility to load the software with one click and set up ArduCopter with quick visual displays, a point-and-click mission planner and a full ground station option (see below).
* Unlimited GPS waypoints. Just point and click waypoints in the Mission Planner, and ArduCopter will fly itself to them. No distance limits! You can script entire missions, including camera control!
* “Loiter” anywhere. Just flip the toggle switch and your copter will hold its position using its GPS and altitude sensors.
* Return to launch. Set home to any location and flip a switch to have ArduCopter fly back automatically.
* Do all mission planning via a two-way wireless connection option. Waypoints, mode changing, even changing the gains of every control parameter can be done from your laptop, even while the copter is in the air!
* Automatic takeoff and landing. Just flick a switch and watch ArduCopter execute its mission completely autonomously, returning home to land by itself in front of you when it’s done.
Fully scriptable camera controls, including the ability to drive a pan-tilt camera gimbal to keep the camera pointed at an object on the ground.
Cross-platform. Supports Windows, Mac and Linux. Use the graphical Mission Planner setup utility in Windows (works under Parallels on a Mac) or use a command-line interface on any other operating system. Once ArduCopter is set up, you can use it with a choice of three ground stations, including QGroundcontrol, which runs natively on Windows, Mac and Linux
Compatibility with industry-leading robotics standards, such as Willow Garages’s Robot Operating System and the MAVLink communications protocol. This ensures that ArduCopter will continue to be on the cutting edge of aerial robotics, from multi-UAV swarming to AI control and Android compatibility.
Sample of performance: