Announcing Dronecode: Expanding the Architecture of Participation for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

amcpherson's picture

A few months ago, I met Chris Anderson and Andy Jensen, CEO and COO of 3D Robotics, one of the leading manufacturers of commercial drones. They were interested in creating a software foundation for their open source drone projects and wanted to pattern it after the Linux Foundation. We quickly realized we could provide the collaborative and participatory infrastructure needed to advance the ecosystem, and Dronecode was born.

The potential for drones to have an impact on our lives is just now hitting the mainstream. While makers and hobbyists have been in from the ground floor, applications such as search and rescue, agriculture, mapping and surveying, photography and film and ecological study have real potential to save lives, save money and improve efficiency. Chris was on the forefront of this movement with his bestselling book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution and his creation of DIYdrones.com.

Today we launch Dronecode with industry leaders who are shaping the coming Drone revolution. Joining 3D Robotics as founding members of Dronecode are BaiDu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec.

The Dronecode story is very unique, with three impressive elements:

  • Today more than 1,200 developers are working on Dronecode projects with more than 150 code commits a day on some projects.

  • The code forms the basis of many of the commercial drones available in the market.

  • Andrew Tridgell (“Tridge”) will become the chair of the Dronecode Project’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and have a seat on the board. He is a lead maintainer in the development of APM and is well recognized for his contributions to the open source software community, including his work as the author of the Samba file server. He is open source royalty so we were even more excited to work on this project.

The software projects that make up Dronecode have been open source since the beginning and currently have an active and growing developer community, so why create Dronecode with the Linux Foundation?

According to Chris, “As the APM/ArduPilot and PX4 project matured and were more widely adopted as part of the drone revolution, it became clear that the kind of professional management and governance that the Linux Foundation provides for other leading open source projects would help them reach the next level of participation, performance and innovation. The combination of independence and a clear path for corporate participation and adoption while protecting open source ideals is something these projects have always been built on, and the experience and reputation of the Linux Foundation ensures that these will be embraced and preserved as the industry around them grows.”

A drone platform is an interesting project for us because it is built on many of the advances of technology we have been involved in for some time (things like Arduino, BeagleBones and embedded Linux) and has great collaboration potential for newer projects like our AllSeen IoT platform (imagine all of the sensors and data connected to other devices). It’s amazing to see the tangible result that cheap and powerful software and hardware components -- built from open platforms -- can create.

By partnering with 3D Robotics and the other founding members we hope to help extend the “architecture of participation” to other developers and companies who wish to establish and grow an ecosystem around this project. More than just code, we help companies collaborate together to create ecosystems by delivering the technical, marketing and educational resources needed, and most importantly providing the right frameworks for that participation. We are at a crucial step in the democratization of drone technology where people can purchase or make their own drone, and through Dronecode they can also fully participate in the foundational platform for unmanned aerial vehicles. Join us by becoming a member of Dronecode or participate in the code (or just make cool stuff). We also plan to expand drone related content at our Embedded Linux Conferences in the US and Europe. I’m excited to see what’s next.