3D Robotics is a US based manufacturer of a variety of advanced drone autopilots, including Pixhawk and Ardupilot Mega systems and accesories. 3D Robotics are the world leaders in open source unmanned aerial vehicle autopilots which run the best in class arduplane/arducopter firmware with unrivalled features and performance. Some cool features you will find in any 3D robotics autopilot system include full waypoint based autonomous navigation allowing you to simply plan your autonomous drone mission via the point and click PC Mission Planner desktop App, or you can use your compatible Android Device via the Tower App. If you decide to add a 3D Robotics Telemetry Kit, you can configure, plan missions, control your drone all wirelessly.
What 3D Robotics Autopilot should I buy?
There are currently two main drone autopilot systems available from 3D Robotics, the Pixhawk (PX4) system, or the ardupilot mega system.
The newer Pixhawk autopilot uses a powerful 32bit processor which makes this the most powerful autopilot system from 3D Robotics, because of the powerful processor the PX4 system is able to have extra features
The Ardupilot system is based on the very popular arduino platform, but uses an 8bit processor. In terms of core performance this is very similar to the pixhawk system, but due to the limited space on board the microcontroller so only a limited amount of features are included with this board. However don’t let that put you off as the core features and sensors of the pixhawk and ardupilot mega are the same, both are capable of controlling a fully autonomous drone.
What about RTF Drones?
3D Robotics offer a range of ready to fly, and self-build drones for hobby use the arducopter quad, Y6 and IRIS+ are great options. If you are looking for a professional use drone for mapping, inspection or surveying, then the Aero-M or X8-M are the best choices.
If you are looking for a personal drone then the IRIS+ is a great option for you to consider, its a complete quadcopter that you can attach your gopro camera to to shoot awesome videos, its powered by the pixhawk system and includes wireless telemetry built in.
If you are looking for a hands-on approach then the self build arducopter quad and arducopter Y6 kits are great places to start your next drone build.
Professional Mapping Drones
The X8-M and Aero-M are professional drones designed to get work done. Both of these systems are complete mapping drones that include a special camera, and processing software (lite version of Pix4D). Each one of these mapping drones come in a rugged outdoor carry case so taking your drone to and from the field are easy and safe.
The Ardupilot Firmware
The ardupilot code is the software that runs onboard your 3DR autopilot. There are two major software bases, one for your fixed wing aircraft called ardupilot, and one for your helicopter (multi rotor) called arducopter. Both versions of these firmware share many common features and is entirely open source and maintained by the DIY Drones community. The ardupilot firmware is amongst the most feature packed and advanced autopilot software currently available, that’s also not to mention the millions of flight hours from users around the world.