VR BRAIN: Put a Brain in your Drone

Another project looking for community funding, Indiegogo again

I’m Roberto Navoni the founder of VirtualRobotix.com community.

This is me with Elisa and Giovanna , one week ago at makersitaly presentation. Why we were there ? That is a long story that began sometime ago …

When I bought  my first closed source Quadcopter kit the idea was that it would not be able to fly , instead after some time it flew ! and I loved a lot to play with this fantastic robotic platform.

BUT … The main problem was that this object was a closed source project and so I couldn’t learn more about the flight algorithm.

So I decided to search on internet if there was some opensource project to join and learn more about this great kind of technology.

After a while I found an interesting opensource project : the AeroQuad project and I joined the DevTeam .

I saw that in internet there was also another project for autopilot that was arduplane based on the first version of an apm that was a simple arduino board to develop autopilots but only for airplanes.

When I learned enough about this kind of platforms I decided to develop my first board. The name was MultiPilot 1.0

That was my first open source design . Before that time I didn’t know how powerful it was and how many things I could bring to the opensource community.

My first personal success on opensource Autopilot was the first flight with my Multipilot board using the first release of Autoquad firmware which at that time was the revision 1.5.

I was very happy to understand how a gyro work and how I can manage the motor with my remote control to do my first loiter … a lot of code written and after a lot of pre-flight check I was operating my first flight. I was very happy.

After some time another member of the AeroQuad community, my friend Jani told me about the opportunity to develop a new opensource project called Arducopter. The idea was to use the experiences made in the AeroQuad and Arduplane projects and develop a new project called Arducopter.

Who proposed this new exciting experience was Chris Anderson, the founder of the DIYDRONES community.

 

During my work inside the community I kept on developing the Multipilot 1.0 board and decided to create our Team called FOXTEAM and put all our experience in our community that I named Virtual Robotix :

www.virtualrobotix.com

This is our virtual place where we can meet our developer and users of our boards and develop cheaper or professional flight platforms.

In multicopter applications the core of the system is the VR Brain flight control, then you just need only simple components as :

  • Frame
  • ESC : Electronic Speed Control of the motors
  • Propellers
  • Radio Trasmitter and Receiver
  • Battery

So the main difference with DIYDRONES project is that Chris prefered to follow the Arduino roadmap to develop his board : APM , APM2 and AMP2.5

We share the main code with DIYDRONES community, our developer is in DEVELOPER TEAM too and I thank all the members of the team for this fantastic work. Our Team worked on low level libraries and on porting to ARM Cortex M4 CPU  the original 8 bit Arducopter firmware.

We prefered to develop a new generation of boards called Multipilot32 , the main difference with APM is that in our design we use an STM32 micro controller. My work in the Arducopter community was to port the firmware and enviroment from the 8 bit Arduino technology within the more advanced 32 bit technology.

During this great adventure I knew a lot of interesting people  and after 3 years of work on 32 bit platform technology I’m very happy to present the result of our development :

VR Brain ready to fly Autopilot Board:

 

The VBrain autopilot is an all in one board the main harware features are:

  • 168Mhz ARM CortexM4F microcontroller with DSP and floating-point hardware acceleration.
  • 1024 KB of flash memory, 192 KB of RAM.
  • MEMS accelerometer and gyro, magnetometer and barometric pressure sensor.
  • 6 RC Input standard PPM , PPMSUM , SBUS
  • 8 RC Output at 490 hz
  • 1 integrated high speed data flash for logging data
  • 1 Can bus 2 i2c Bus
  • 3 Serial port available  one for GPS 1 for serial option 1 for serial telemetry.
  • 3 digital switch (ULN2003).
  • Jtag support for onboard realtime debugger.
  • 1 Buzzer output.
  • 1 Input to control lipo voltage
  • Included in the  VR Brain Package there is the GPS module , the module support MTEK 3329 gps .
  • Physical Dimension 60x40x15 mm
  • Will be available a plastic enclosure.

The firmware support this features

  • Acro Flight
  • Stable Flight
  • Simple mode flight
  • Automatic Return to Landing point.
  • Gps hold and altitude position.
  • Automatic waypoint navigation.
  • Telemetry control by Mavlink 1.0 protocol
  • Manage different kind of configuration Quad , Hexa , Okto
  • Manage also automatic gimbal stabilization not available in Okto configuration

Our VR Brain is an Opensource hardware and firmware all information and development tools are available here :

http://code.google.com/p/multipilot32/

more information about the project is available inside our community :

http://www.virtualrobotix.com

Our platform support Floating point hardware acceleration and is more of 30x fast of standard arduino platform.