July 16, 2019      
Ryan Sommer, on behalf of Auterion

Last month at ETH Zurich, Auterion sponsored the first-ever PX4 developer conference for those interested in the open-source-based operating system for enterprise drones. The event, held June 20-21, included 200 attendees from the open-source community, including developers, researchers, and technical thought leaders in the unmanned systems space.

Here are three takeaway messages from the conference – for those interested in learning more about PX4 and ROS (the largest open-source drone and robotics communities), you can view all of the presentations on PX4’s YouTube channel.

The Frontier of Computer Vision

Julian Kent, computer vision technical lead at Auterion, facilitated a discussion on updates and the current status of computer vision in the drone industry. Both Auterion co-founder Lorenz Meier, as well as Martina Ravizzigno, a computer vision software engineer at Auterion, presented the newest features in PX4, including safe landing spot detection. In addition, the needs/requirements for ship landing (moving targets), was particularly interesting.

Pixhawk Standard 2019

For a glimpse into the first full-system Pixhawk design geared towards robotics developers and a brief history of the Pixhawk hardware standard development since 2011, Lorenz Meier, creator of Pixhawk and PX4 and Auterion Co-founder, had the bases covered here.

Three design highlights of the upcoming standards were also discussed, including:

  • The Pixhawk autopilot-on-module bus standard
  • The Pixhawk Autopilot bus for gimbal connectors
  • The return of a complete reference design to avoid fragmentation of the ecosystem

MAVSDK: The best way to control MAVLink drones

This session, by core SDK developer and Auterion Software Engineer Jonas Vautherin, gave an overview of the MAVSDK (recently renamed from “DronecodeSDK”), its design, current features, and roadmap. More specifically, it explained how the SDK is built to supporting all drones using the MAVLink interface by providing an easy way to extend its features and supported languages.

Live demos followed, showing how to install and run MAVSDK both from Python and C++. The session was suitable for any potential contributor or adopter interested in writing high-level applications for drones with the PX4 autopilot, but don’t want to dig into low-level code.