Raspberry Pi based Autopilot Sensor Platform

The guys at emlid have developed Navio a navigation/flight controller sensor shield for the Raspberry Pi targeting robotic models like cars, boats, submarines, multirotors and planes.

With a lot of projects in the field of flight/navigation controller hardware moving away from 8-Bit to 32 Bit MCU for better performance, it seems that it was about time that someone developed something like that for the Pi. While you would think that it’s generally a bad idea to have a control loop running in a non-realtime environment, realtime kernel extensions like for example Xenomai make things like this possible and manageable. All while running in a linux environment with all the features of an OS and the command line magic of the tools you love available at your fingertips.

In case of the Pi you have the added benefit of comparatively large processing power that makes things like streaming video of a camera or even running image recognition on top of it possible, especially if you incorporate the GPU.

Apart from that the possibility to for example add Wi-fi or 3G connectivity by simply plugging in a device into the USB port seems also a plus.

This are the features the shield adds to your Pi:

  • 13 PWM outputs to control servos
  • 9DOF inertial measurement unit
  • Pressure and temperature sensor
  • GPS with carrier phase measurement
  • External GPS antenna
  • 4-channel 16bit ADC
  • 1 trillion read/write cycles FRAM. An interesting feature as in my experience the SD card read/write access, if necessary, is often a problem if you want to achieve realtime performance.
  • Bright RGB LED
  • I2C, SPI, UART ports.

On the software side of things emlid is planing to port ArduCopter to the Pi.


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