The ArduPilot development team is proud to announce the release of version 3.7.0 of APM:Plane. This is a major update so please read the notes carefully.
The biggest changes in this release are:
- more reliable recovery from inverted flight
- automatic IC engine support
- Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for stall recovery on quadplanes
- Pixhawk2 IMU heater support
- PH2SLIM support
- AP_Module support
- Parrot Disco support
- major VRBrain support merge
- much faster boot time on Pixhawk
I’ll give a bit of detail on each of these changes before giving the more detailed list of changes.
More reliable recovery from inverted flight
Marc Merlin discovered that on some types of gliders that ArduPilot would not reliably recover from inverted flight. The problem turned out to be the use of the elevator at high bank angles preventing the ailerons from fully recovering attitude. The fix in this release prevent excessive elevator use when the aircraft is beyond LIM_ROLL_CD. This should help a lot for people using ArduPilot as a recovery system for manual FPV flight.
Automatic IC engine support
ArduPilot has supported internal combustion engines for a long time, but until now the pilot has had to control the ignition and starter manually using transmitter pass throughs. A new “ICE” module in ArduPilot now allows for fully automatic internal combustion engine support.
Coupled with an RPM sensor you can setup your aircraft to automatically control the ignition and starter motor, allowing for one touch start of the motor on the ground and automatic restart of the motor in flight if needed.
The IC engine support is also integrated into the quadplane code, allowing for automatic engine start at a specified altitude above the ground. This is useful for tractor engine quadplanes where the propeller could strike the ground on takeoff. The engine can also be automatically stopped in the final stage of a quadplane landing.
Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for stall recovery
Another new quadplane feature is automatic recovery from fixed wing stall. Previously the VTOL motors would only provide assistance in fixed wing modes when the aircraft airspeed dropped below Q_ASSIST_SPEED. Some stalls can occur with higher airspeed however, and this can result in the aircraft losing attitude control without triggering a Q_ASSIST_SPEED recovery. A new parameter Q_ASSIST_ANGLE allows for automatic assistance when attitude control is lost, triggering when the attitude goes outside the defined roll and pitch limits and is more than Q_ASSIST_ANGLE degrees from the desired attitude. Many thanks to Iskess for the suggestion and good discussion around this feature.
Pixhawk2 heated IMU support
This release adds support for the IMU heater in the upcoming Pixhawk2, allowing for more stable IMU temperatures. The Pixhawk2 is automatically detected and the heater enabled at boot, with the target IMU temperature controllable via BRD_IMU_TARGTEMP.
Using an IMU heater should improve IMU stability in environments with significant temperature changes.
This release adds support for the PH2SLIM variant of the Pixhawk2, which is a Pixhawk2 cube without the isolated sensor top board. This makes for a very compact autopilot for small aircraft. To enable PH2SLIM support set the BRD_TYPE parameter to 6 using a GCS connected on USB.
This is the first release of ArduPilot with loadable module support for Linux based boards. The AP_Module system allows for externally compiled modules to access sensor data from ArduPilot controlled sensors. The initial AP_Module support is aimed at vendors integrating high-rate digital image stabilisation using IMU data, but it is expected this will be expanded to other use cases in future releases.
Parrot Disco Support
This release adds support for the Parrot C.H.U.C.K autopilot in the new Disco airframe. The Disco is a very lightweight flying wing with a nicely integrated Linux based autopilot. The Disco flies very nicely with ArduPilot, bringing the full set of mission capabilities of ArduPilot to this airframe.
Major VRBrain Support Update
This release includes a major merge of support for the VRBrain family of autopilots. Many thanks to the great work by Luke Mike in putting together this merge!
Much Faster Boot Time
Boot times on Pixhawk are now much faster due to a restructuring of the driver startup code, with slow starting drivers not started unless they are enabled with the appropriate parameters. The restructuring also allows for support of a wide variety of board types, including the PH2SLIM above.
This release includes many other updates right across the flight stack, including several new features. Some of the changes include:
- improved quadplane auto-landing
- limit roll and pitch by Q_ANGLE_MAX in Q modes
- improved ADSB avoidance and MAVLink streaming
- smoother throttle control on fixed-wing to VTOL transition
- removed “demo servos” movement on boot
- fixed a problem with spurious throttle output during boot (thanks
- to Marco for finding this)
- support MAVLink SET_ATTITUDE_TARGET message
- log all rally points on startup
- fixed use of stick mixing for rudder with STICK_MIXING=0
- fixed incorrect tuning warnings when vtol not active
- support MAVLink based external GPS device
- support LED_CONTROL MAVLink message
- prevent baro update while disarmed for large height change
- support PLAY_TUNE MAVLink message
- added AP_Button support for remote button input reporting
- support Ping2020 ADSB transceiver
- fixed disarm by rudder in quadplanes
- support 16 channel SERVO_OUTPUT_RAW in MAVLink2
- added automatic internal combustion engine support
- support DO_ENGINE_CONTROL MAVLink message
- added ground throttle suppression for quadplanes
- added MAVLink reporting of logging subsystem health
- prevent motor startup on reboot in quadplanes
- added quadplane support for Advanced Failsafe
- added support for a 2nd throttle channel
- fixed bug in crash detection during auto-land flare
- lowered is_flying groundspeed threshold to 1.5m/s
- added support for new FrSky telemetry protocol varient
- added support for fence auto-enable on takeoff in quadplanes
- added Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for using quadplane to catch stalls in fixed wing flight
- added BRD_SAFETY_MASK to allow for channel movement for selected channels with safety on
- numerous improvements to multicopter stability control for quadplanes
- support X-Plane10 as SITL backend
- lots of HAL_Linux improvements to bus and thread handling
- fixed problem with elevator use at high roll angles that could
- prevent attitude recovery from inverted flight
- improved yaw handling in EKF2 near ground
- added IMU heater support on Pixhawk2
- allow for faster accel bias learning in EKF2
- fixed in-flight yaw reset bug in EKF2
- added AP_Module support for loadable modules
- support Disco airframe from Parrot
- use full throttle in initial takeoff in TECS
- added NTF_LED_OVERRIDE support
- added terrain based simulation in SITL
- merged support for wide range of VRBrain boards
- added support for PH2SLIM and PHMINI boards with BRD_TYPE
- greatly reduced boot time on Pixhawk and similar boards
- fixed magic check for signing key in MAVLink2
- fixed averaging of gyros for EKF2 gyro bias estimate
Many thanks to the many people who have contributed to this release, and happy flying!