You have probably heard of KDE Direct, a leading manufacturer of brushless motors, electronics and components for the UAV market. KDE Direct has just announced the launch of a new CAN communication protocol; KDECAN will allow UVC series ESCs to actively monitor critical system components, increase redundancy and set the standard for operational safety in the drone industry.
ESCs and flight controllers use PWM signals to transmit information from the flight controller to the ESC. With the addition of KDECAN, the customer has access to a multitude of features including live telemetry, system warnings and redundant throttle control. KDECAN detects when an ESC loses throttle control via PWM and uses messages sent via CAN bus to continue operation, increasing reliability. The KDECAN communication protocol is available on the KDE Direct website (as well as nice setup instructions).
KDE Direct has hired my services to implement support for this new CAN protocol on ArduPilot, making our autopilot the first to support it. All code is now public (https://github.com/ArduPilot/ardupilot/pull/9619, https://github.com/ArduPilot/MissionPlanner/pull/1968) and after some re-work to comply with recent master changes, it will go under review, after which I expect it to be merged and available for testing on development builds. Telemetry information (voltage, current, RPM and temperature) from the ESCs is logged and sent via MAVLink, with ESC warnings expected to come soon.
As part of this collaboration, KDE Direct has joined the ArduPilot partners program, bringing the number of partners to 50! If you are also interested in being part of this program and helping support ArduPilot, go to http://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/common-partners.html#how-does-my-company-become-a-partner
I want to thank KDE Direct for our work together, it was a pleasure helping bring KDECAN to life.