This has to be the fourth comment I have typed. Deleted all the rest as it’s a tough question to answer. And it just leads to more questions. I guess I’ll actually submit this one…
“Who are we attracting?” DIYers, hackers, researchers. That’s a guess. This thread seems to have become more about adding numbers. Why add more people? Is ArduPilot as an org trying to run this as a business? Do you need growth for sake of growth? Perhaps if you are trying to make shareholders happy. What is the value in just adding more users? Do you want to go toe to toe with companies that have perfected volume production? Do you want to partner to mass produce? Can you imagine being responsible for a call center that has to support something as complex as ArduPilot? Shall we scale the complexity like DJI to try to reduce that burden at the low end, and charge more for high end with more options? Doable. But does that align with ArduPilot’s vision/mission/goals?
If ArduPilot wants to become the “linux of autopilots” what does that really mean? Are we talking about linux kernel where changes do happen, but are not taken lightly? I am not suggesting that the devs do not do a good job given the constraints in which they work, but are we ready to say that ArduPilot has adopted a dev system of checks/balances/testing on par with linux kernel? And that is just the kernel. How about all the different linux distros. Should ArduPilot maintain just the “kernel” with Plane, Copter, Rover et al be treated as linux distros/flavors? And most here seem to be pointing to hardware as the issue anyway. Is it the pain of soldering and integration? And if so, how is that an ArduPilot problem? It could be if developing the entire ecosystem is part of the vision/mission/goals. Is it?
Do you honestly think you will bring in FPV racers? And then keep them when the hottest new thing comes along? Camera drone users who can buy a DJI, or the latest knockoff, off the shelf and be filming inside of an hour without ever reading about parameters on a wiki? Perhaps, but can we afford limited resources in the pursuit of overcoming significant inertia in those markets? And what do we gain? See what I mean about more questions. ArduPilot needs to decide what they are, and what they want to become. AND, “Who do you want to attract?” Right back to… vision, mission, goals and metrics. All the governance stuff that requires long, thankless, no code written, no fun to be had hours.
Personally, I don’t think the world needs more stuff designed to be thrown away. And I don’t think ArduPilot should contribute to the mass production of said junk. I would say that is well covered. There are other ways to provide value. Like quality and flexibility in an open ecosystem that encourages local ownership in the design, build and maintenance cycle of a small robot. But I am biased, as that is my goal. Perhaps it does not align with ArduPilot. I would like it to, but this is a community. All I can do is voice my opinion. Hmm. Seems I just did. Thanks.
As a point for consideration regarding adding more users via ARF/RTF options: The SkyViper e1700 Stunt Builder is a good example of how tough that market can be. Right now that sells for about $17 US on Amazon. That is with Prime shipping. I run a small shop for a living that ships all over the US. I can just ship a box that size with cost of cardboard and handling for $17 US. With nothing in it. Just the box, with air inside, would cost me about what they are dumping that kit for right now. So how much would you pay for a well built ArduPilot based RTF copter? Assuming we pay the people involved a living wage, and otherwise conform to a minimum set of business ethics. Like it or not, we do vote with our wallets.