So, funny thing is…
I’m staring at this Odroid XU4 that I need to implement in order to run an improved version of Precision Landing which is a closed-source software that operates on top of Ardupilot and costs pretty big money per license.
Now, the XU4 is not optimized for UAV usage. It has a bunch of horribly big USB-A connectors and RJ45 jacks, all sticking out the sides, going to make the entire thing really big. How great would it be, if somebody designed a purpose-made companion computer for UAV usage with sensible connectors, etc. But nobody will. Why? Because soon as they do, it will be cloned, and then they can’t make back their investment.
But cloning makes the community stronger right?
And why am I paying big money for an improved PL? (We’re talking 4-figures per instance!) Ardupilot already has this. Well, it’s not quite good enough, it needs to be improved. And the business case is needed where I can just write a cheque, and somebody makes my vehicle be able to land on a boat in a month. I can’t get that with the existing Ardupilot developer group. They don’t have the people lying around ready willing and able to satisfy my need.
We used to have 20 people paid full time to work on Ardupilot. Now there are just a few. Why? 3DR used to make enough money from the hardware sales to fund the software developer salaries. But the cloners killed off that market.
But cloners make the community better, right?
I’m now having to pay a lot of money, to several closed-source companies, who develop products and software that operate on top of the core Ardupilot controller. None of this is happening open source. It’s sad.