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3DR is proud to announce that we’re opening the source code for the Solo flight controller. Solo is a consumer product, aimed at simplifying the process of getting great aerial footage. As a development story, true to 3DR’s open spirit, Solo was developed not just by us at 3DR, but in concert with the ardupilot core development team and contributors around the world. Solo’s flight characteristics, performance and robustness are a testament to the power and adaptability of APM:Copter, which is why we’re so pleased today to officially open that source code to the world at large: The repository with full history is now available for download on GitHub, the first of many development doors that we’ll be opening on Solo.

In addition to opening Solo source, we are today publishing the set of guiding principles that went into developing all of Solo’s subsystems. The policy, developed by the 3DR software engineering team in conjunction with the the community, addresses key questions: How do we do development? What do we choose to open? Why do we do it in the first place? For 3DR, the policy represents a set of guiding principles on how we plan on doing development, and we feel it important to, in turn, open to the broader community for clarity, accountability and, well, because we’re excited to share it!

Solo: Open for development

We placed open source hardware and software at the core of Solo and view it as essential to our development and platform strategy. But it doesn’t stop with the source! We strive to put powerful tools in the hands of developers. In some cases this means source code, and we plan on opening other parts of Solo, including much of SoloLink. In all cases this means making Solo the number one development platform, which means great APIs and developer tools. We plan on deepening DroneKit integration into Solo, so that developers can easily add new shots in Python and apps on Android, with new language bindings for other platforms coming soon.

The word ‘platform’ is getting quite a bit of traction these days. However, we believe it’s not enough to call something a platform ahead of building it. A platform isn’t an over-engineered airframe, coincidentally exposed cables or slides in a presentation; it’s a bolt pattern, a pinout, an API and a source code that exists in the real world with engineers to support it. So rather than pay lip service to the term, we chose to place the world’s leading autopilot development platform — APM:Copter — at the heart of Solo, running on the new Pixhawk 2. Connected to the flight controller we have SoloLink, which brings the power and flexibility of Linux computing onboard a consumer vehicle for the first time and appeals to an even broader set of developers. We also added an accessory port, 3DRBUS, on the bottom so that kickstarter projects, academics and businesses can easily integrate their own hardware. We developed DroneKit for use on Solo so that web and mobile developers can build businesses on top of this hardware and software. Most important, we know a great platform gets better with time, and we plan on supporting Solo for years to come.

This is the Solo Developer road map. Let us know what you think. Help us build Solo into the premiere drone platform, and the best home for developers around the world.