3D Robotics (3DR) has released a new open-software product called DroneKit, the company's application programming interface (API) for drone-app development.
Downloadable for free from 3DR, DroneKit – which works with any vehicle powered by 3DR’s APM flight code – is a single platform that developers can use to create Web-based drone apps or even apps on-board the drones themselves.
With DroneKit, users can develop apps for three platforms: mobile apps (DroneKit Android), Web-based apps (DroneKit cloud) and on-board computer apps (DroneKit Python) – i.e., for a companion computer on the actual drone.
3DR uses an analogy of a smartphone: In order to make a smartphone app, you don't need to design and create a phone first. The hard part (the platform, in other words) is already done. With DroneKit, 3DR has made the phone, so to speak. Now everyone has the creative freedom to build apps and new functions.
3DR says its role is to maintain DroneKit: It created the API, it fixes any issues with it, it assure it works with all APM vehicles, it adds experimental features from labs and from those contributed by the global community, and it makes all updates available to anyone for free.
According to 3DR, DroneKit allows users to do the following: fly paths with waypoints; fly in spline path with fine grain control over vehicle velocity and position; have the drone follow a GPS target; control the camera and gimbal with regions of interest points; access full telemetry from the drone over 3DR Radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or the internet; and view playbacks and log analysis of any mission.
More information can be found here.