Open-source Dronecode Project seeks to spur UAS innovation

By Patrick C. Miller | October 16, 2014

Greater innovation and a common platform for unmanned aerial vehicles is the goal of the Dronecode Project recently launched by the Linux Foundation.

With more than 1,200 developers working on Dronecode, the project brings together open-source projects and assets under a nonprofit structure governed by the foundation. The nonprofit organization focuses on collaborative development and accelerating the growth of Linux—a free, open-source operating system.

“Open-source software and collaborative development are advancing technologies in the hottest, most cutting-edge areas,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “The Dronecode Project is a perfect example of this.”

According to the Linux Foundation, hundreds of thousands of developers and makers around the world are contributing to UAS technology. The organization believes the Dronecode Project will help advance these technologies and accelerate adoption of better, more affordable and more reliable open-source software for UAVs.

“The industry is just beginning to realize the potential of drone technology as this space continues to attract attention,” said Imad Sousou, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. “For any new technology to become mainstream, it’s important for the industry players to collaborate.”

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec. Dronecode will also incorporate the partner PX4 project, led by Lorenz Meier from the Technical University of Zurich.

PX4 is an independent, open-source, open-hardware project aimed at providing a high-end autopilot to the academic, hobby and industrial communities at low cost and high availability. The hardware and software platform can run multiple autopilot applications.

“The Linux Foundation is well-recognized for its ability to rally support and advance the work of important open-source projects,” said Chris Anderson, CEO and founder of 3D Robotics. “The Dronecode Project will benefit from this expertise and bring to bear important resources for developers working on drone technology.”

Andrew Tridgell will become the chair of the Dronecode Project’s Technical Steering Committee and have a seat on the board. He is a lead maintainer in the development of APM/ArduPilot previously hosted by 3D Robotics.  

“Software is what makes drones intelligent. We want to contribute to that intelligence and the advancement of drone technologies, and the Dronecode Project gives us that opportunity,” said Tian Yu, president and founder of Yuneec.