Last July, we published a post covering all the great stuff going on in one of the most popular fields for our tiny computers: MAVs. Today, we’re excited to unveil a new entry into the field: the AeroCore MAV Control Platform. Check out the video after the break to see it in action!
For the last 10 years, Gumstix has been the go-to choice for many MAV developers thanks to the small size of our COMs and weight of only 5.6 grams. With AeroCore, we looked at everything our users have done with our COMs over the last decade, and created a board that offers the most widely-implemented features in the field. Gumstix has aimed to take care of the hardware needs of its users, because, like Marc Andreessen told PandoDaily, hardware is hard, leaving users free to spend their time working on what matters most: the software.
By interfacing a COM directly with the MAV on the AeroCore, users can run a limitless array of software on-board, in the air. Some MAV developers have already realized this potential, having created projects ranging from intelligent MAV swarms to airborne computer-vision target tracking systems to devices used in the surveying of vertical infrastructure like skyscrapers. All of these applications have been made possible by the ability to deploy a small, light computer running a full Linux installation.
Linux opens a whole new world to UAV developers in terms of high-level software. Solutions like ROS, the Robot Operating System, are incredibly popular in terrestrial and marine robotics, where computing resources are less constrained by size and weight as compared to aerial implementations. An AeroCore with a DuoVero COM weighs just over 40 grams and brings all the resources needed to run software like ROS; in fact, it has already been used on a number of UAVs, including one controlling a laser measurement system on the vertical infrastructure surveyor. AgentFly, pictured on the left, is another example of the possibilities offered by running a full implementation of Linux in flight. With a familiar environment and package managers, installing software like the Java runtime environment is quick and easy on a COM, and allows users to deploy applications written in understandable, high-level programming languages. Interfacing the best of high-level programming with the power of low-level, baremetal control is where the AeroCore excels and allows users to innovate in new and interesting ways with MAVs.
The AeroCore is currently available for $199 USD with GPS, but a $149 version without GPS will follow shortly. Head over to the Gumstix Online Store to check out the AeroCore’s technical specifications to pick one up for yourself.