Technology

PX4 is one of the leading flight control platforms. Below you can find out a bit more about the technologies involved.

Complete Autopilot Solution

The PX4 flight stack is part of the Dronecode platform, an end-to-end solution for building and managing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AUV).

The platform has several parts:

  • PX4 Flight Stack: The flight control system (autopilot).
  • MAVLink: A highly efficient, lightweight and blazing fast robotics communication toolkit.
  • QGroundControl: Modern, mobile and desktop user interface to configure the system and execute flights.

A number of other projects work with the platform including: DroneKit, ROS, FastRTPS, AirSim, Gazebo, and RViz (to name a few).

Built for Aerial Robotics

Building a drone requires more than just flight controls — it requires vision and GPS based navigation, obstacle avoidance and path planning. The PX4 architecture is designed and ready for more complex environments.

Optical Flow and Visual Inertial Odometry

This provides the ability to simulate vision based localisation accurately.

Optical Flow simulation

Avoidance

Obstacle avoidance is operational in simulation, and will find its way very soon into outdoor flights.

Reactive obstacle avoidance

Planning

Planning allows the operator to safely specify where the drone should go rather than how.

Path planning with obstacle avoidance

Great User Experience

QGroundControl is a state of the art ground control station runs on Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and Mac OS and looks and feels the same on all platforms. Its designed for day-to-day operators but scales to power users.

qgc_mission_view

Key Features

  • User friendly interface for flying and mission planning that works in a similar way on desktop and mobile platforms.
  • Digital video streaming supported out of the box on Linux platforms.
  • Simple airframe setup, including firmware, joysticks, sensors and flight modes.
  • Simple firmware customization using sliders – or by diving all the way down into the full parameter configuration.

Simulation

PX4 provides a flexible simulation framework allows the easy addition of new simulation backends

AirSim

AirSim is simulator from Microsoft, built on the Unreal Engine. It is open-source, cross platform and supports hardware-in-loop with Pixhawk (and other flight controllers) for physically and visually realistic simulations

ROS Gazebo Simulator

Gazebo is a PX4-compatible open source advanced robotics simulation environment that allows you to simulate the complete system to test new controllers or estimators. In addition to simulating avionics, Gazebo provides the capability to replicate cameras and laser sensors

jMAVSim

jMAVSim is a simple and lightweight multirotors simulator. It can work with the autopilot via serial port or UDP connection, directly using the MAVLink protocol, without any wrappers or ground control stations. Optional secondary port (e.g. UDP) can be configured for ground station connection

X-Plane

X-Plane is a accurate flight simulator which supports fixed wing models. Only XPlane 10 is officially supported and tested with PX4 but (untested) legacy support for XPlane 9 is available in QGroundControl

Hardware

PX4 runs on flight controller hardware, and connects to various sensors, telemetry radios and other peripherals. Some of the more important hardware is described below.

Flight Controllers

PX4 runs on a range of flight controller hardware from high-end Linux systems to tiny FPV racing boards.

These include:

  • Pixhawk-compatible flight controllers, including the 3DR Pixhawk and Pixhawk Mini
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight
  • Intel® Aero Ready to Fly Drone
Find out more

Broad Airframe Support

PX4 supports anything from a multi rotor to a fixed wing, and all mix forms of VTOL planes in-between.

DJI Flamewheel 450

Falcon Vertigo Hybrid VTOL

WingtraOne Tailsitter VTOL

Intel® Aero Ready to Fly Drone

Caipirinha Tailsitter

Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight

E-Flite Convergence

DeltaQuad VTOL

QuadRanger VTOL

Wing Wing Z-84

Fun Cub QuadPlane VTOL

Applied Aeronautics Albatross

BirdsEyeView Firefly Y6

Lumenier QAV 250