3D Robotics Launches DroneKit, Its API For Building Drone Apps

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3D Robotics Launches DroneKit, Its API For Building Drone Apps.

When Apple started letting outside developers create apps for the iPhone, it opened a world of potential. Because 3D Robotics has always taken a platform approach, DroneKit will work with any drone that uses its APM autopilot (and while there are quite a few of those on the market, though this won’t work with any of the popular DJI drones, for example).

The company has unveiled a free and open-source drone app development platform. “Unlike other APIs for drones, there are no levels of access to DroneKit; it’s completely flexible and open,” said Brandon Basso, VP of software engineering at 3DR. “The platform works on laptops as well as mobile devices. Best of all, once an app is created, the app automatically works on any computing platform—the interface is always the same.” Before DroneKit, developers looking to create applications would have to build it from the ground up, dealing with the difficulties of writing flight-control software. Using DroneKit, developers can program the vehicle to fly certain paths, follow a GPS target, control camera gimbals and get telemetry from the drone. DroneKit eliminates those struggles and provides a clean, modern interface, according to 3DR. 3DR will continue to maintain the drone development platform, fix problems that arise and ensure it works with any vehicle powered by the APM flight code. The masses will now have a chance to create useful apps for many drones, tapping into the technology’s potential. “We want to encourage as many people as possible to use this and make it as easy as possible to use.

That’s how you drive adoption,” said Roger Sollenberger, editorial director at 3D Robotics. “You make it easy, you make it accessible, you make it powerful. And then people make it useful.” In November, DJI, a global heavyweight in the drone world, announced a software development kit so that developers could make apps for its Phantom 2 Vision. Apps developed with DroneKit can be used on any drone featuring APM, an open source autopilot suite from 3D Robotics. “We’ll keep the drone up in the air. Now you just get to use your creativity and your developing talent to make that drone do useful, cool things,” he said. 3D Robotics will not take a percentage of the money generated from app sales, as is the custom with the smartphone app stores operated by Apple and Google.

People with limited tech savvy could harness the power of drones without having to know how to fly them. 3D Robotics is already experiencing rapid growth. With U.S. drone rules for commercial operators expected to be finalized within two years, that will provide even more wind in the sails of the burgeoning drone economy.

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