HomeLinux-based commercial drone autopilot debuts in India

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Navstik Labs showed off its Linux-based “Flyt” commercial drone autopilot, while 3DR opened up its Solo quadcopter’s hardware add-on spec to developers.

Navstik Labs made its first public demonstration of its Flyt autopilot platform at Nasscom Product Conclave in Bangalore, India, on Oct. 13, according to a Gadgets 360 report. Navstik has posted an update notification page on the beta release, which is expected in December, and has also revealed some basic specs.It’s been a busy week for drones.

While the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) community argued over the merits of FCC regulationsproposed this week that would require U.S. UAV owners to register their drones with the government, two new developments emerged in Linux-based drone hardware. A startup called Navstik Labs in Pune, India demonstrated a new Linux-based “Flyt” autopilot platform for commercial drones, while 3DR launched a “Made for Solo” hardware development program for third-party developers to build add-ons for the accessory bay of its Linux-based Solo quadcopter.

Three views of the Navstik FlytPod

Navstik’s Flyt platform consists of an ARM-based FlytPod autopilot device, as well as a Linux-based open source operating system and application development platform called FlytOS. There are no plans for Navstik to build finished drones, only the autopilot.The FlytPod is expected to sell for under $1,000, says Gadgets 360, and is designed for drones that are more expensive and advanced than prosumer drones like the Solo, theYuneec Typhoon, or the proprietary market leader, DJI Phantom, all of which sell for $1,000 to $1,400. According to the story, FlytPod has advanced features like long-range telemetry systems, and it supports larger drones and both fixed-wing and multi-rotor designs. It is also “more suited for business applications,” says the story.



Navstik FlytPod system architecture

As Gadgets 360 suggests, the combination of the FlytPod’s octa-core, 2GHz ARM SoC and the app platform makes it somewhat “Android-like.” The idea is that a common app platform will work across multiple drone products from multiple vendors.

3DR and the Linux Foundation’s Dronecode project have a similar plan for Dronecode, although currently the focus is on hardware standardization. Erle Robotics and Canonical are deploying the Ubuntu Snappy apps platform for the Erle-Copter and other Erle Robotics products.

The Flyt platform is a second-generation version of a NavStik platform that was sold privately by Navstik Labs parent company Navstik Autonomous Systems. The company has sold technology to defense and research labs like DRDO, HAL, and NAL, says Gadget 360.

The Flyt platform offers a full Linux environment with onboard web server. The platform exposes high level APIs in REST, CPP, Python, and ROS (Robot Operating System), according to the Flyt website. It uses the Navstik-developed open source PandaPilot autopilot flight navigation platform, a fork of PX4 code-base and 3DR’s ArduPilot (APM), upon which Dronecode is based.