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Simplified Drone Software Development

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kevinm, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. kevinm

    Mar 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Hi all,

    First off, I'm sorry if this comes across as spam. I am posting this because I genuinely think that we can help the community do some awesome things with their Phantom and other UAV's :)

    Some Background On Myself and Our Company
    My name is Kevin and I am a co-founder of an exciting drone startup called NVdrones. Three years ago, a few friends and I started building drones as a hobby, and after months of buying kits, building our own frames, fiddling with electronics, etc. we realized a few glaring things. The first was that although drones can be used for many amazing things, customizing the software/hardware to apply to different areas was extremely difficult. For instance, you can pretty easily fly to different GPS waypoints, but if you want to simply add a servo motor and drop something off at a certain location, things become unnecessarily tricky. The second realization was that there are so many different platforms/flight controllers out there that we wanted a way to create an application and run that application on different platforms/FC's.

    Our Company Mission
    We are creating a platform that allows drone software development to be as easy as web or mobile development (if you've worked with Arduino before you'll feel right at home), and anyone with our hardware can run those applications on unique platforms/FC's (our hardware works with any FC that communicates over PPM/PWM, which includes the Naza, Pixhawk, Ardupilot, and many others).

    Product Specs
    We wanted to make our system as general as possible (for the purpose of working on many systems and applying for both B2B and B2C applications) as well as offload as much of the processing as possible (to lower the costs of the CPU). Here are the specifications of our electronics:

    • CPU: ATmega2560
      10 programmable digital pins: with PWM support
      Fly-home: Failsafe Functionality Built-in
      Serial buss: SPI, I2C, and UART.
      External power: 4 power ports for servos, actuators and anything else needing extra power (total of 1 amp)
      Xbee: Swappable module for wireless communication.

    I've also attached a picture of the dev board.

    Coding Languages
    We currently offer an Arduino SDK and will release Android and Javascript SDK's very soon.

    Looking for Third-Party Beta Developers!
    We've spent a lot of effort the past year creating this platform and are super excited that we're at a point where people can start testing our system. If you're interested in using what we've created, you can register at developers.nvdrones.com and see the documentation that we have so far. Since our goal is to make everything as simple as possible, we'll be improving the documentation/support that we offer on a weekly basis.

    We're also working on improving the safety our system in respect to implementing no-fly-zones (we're working together with noflyzone.org), improving the failsafe technology to prevent flyaways, and improving the robustness of the system to decrease the amount of human error.

    You can check us out for an interview that we did for That Drone Show [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjcn4vS70dk[/youtube]
    We'll also be demo'ing at International Drone Day in Las Vegas on March 14.

    Any Questions?
    Please respond to this post or e-mail developers@nvdrones.com if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, about our platform and we'll get back to you ASAP. Happy flying!


    Attached Files:

  2. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler

    Jan 7, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Lost Angeles
    Interesting. Hopefully, you'll be able to shrink it down. For the Naza, you'll want to interface to the CAN bus. All sensors broadcast their data over the bus so it's where all the good information is.

    I put a Teensy in my Phantom with a CAN transceiver to capture and log CAN bus data from the Naza. There's some great work that has been done to read CAN bus messages from the Naza.

    What I am curious to know is if it is possible to send instructions to the NAZA over the CAN bus, e.g. enter failsafe, fly to this waypoint, etc. I would assume this is how ground station works.
  3. kevinm

    Mar 4, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Thanks for your interest! We're always working on decreasing the footprint. Right now the weight of the board plus a 900 MHz Xbee is 22 grams, which isn't bad. Mounting it on the top or bottom of the Phantom has been non-problematic. The Xbee we're using is rated for 6 miles line of sight. Initial testing for us has shown about a mile but this'll improve after some tweaks to the design.

    Perhaps in the future we will offer CAN bus support but presently we are focusing on the communication through the PPM/PWM inputs. The reasoning is that we want the system to be as hardware independent as possible. We offer our own failsafe, return-to-home, waypoints, etc. functionality with our own system so it doesn't need to depend on the NAZA for it.

    Hope this makes sense!
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I think you're onto a great idea and I hope it progresses well for you !!

    I also agree with you that a closed-system like the DJI Phantom or Inspire is a dead end street for consumers for the future. DJI products are even worse than Apple because at least Apple will release an SDK for developers, whereas DJI makes it hard for a consumer to even add LED lights (ie, no power port). Does DJI really think they can maintain a stranglehold on the UAV market with this philosophy? Try asking IBM how that turned out in the 80s after Microsoft opened up the DOS platform to compatible PC manufacturers. We know how that story ended.

    Open source is the future of consumer UAVs, and I'm glad to see you guys are the "tip of the spear" when it comes to this grassroots movement. Like you, I've been trying to find an easy way to add a drop-servo to my Vision+ so it can deliver small items at the end of a 3-mile Ground Station mission. A simple utility like this would open the floodgates for UAV adoption worldwide. Let's do this!
  5. kevinm

    Mar 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    @Danny-Darida: Thanks for the kind words! Seems like you've gone through some of the hardships that we've had to go through.

    If you'd like to be notified of updates, I encourage you to register at developers.nvdrones.com. Once registered, you can go through our documentation of how to create an application (we're updating weekly) and contact us to buy a beta dev kit.

    Also, feel free to contact me at kmukai@nvdrones.com if you have further questions!
  6. Hughie

    Nov 22, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Leeds, United Kingdom
    Very interesting idea. I get the attraction of Arduino, but would prefer to be able to hit the AVR directly without all the baggage. Is that going to be an option ?
  7. Jacob

    Jacob Administrator
    Staff Member

    Mar 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    It's a very interesting idea. I'm still waiting to see some practical use cases. Until then i'll reserve my judgement.
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