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Intel-powered drone controller offers open source flight control platform

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Aerotenna OcPoC

Microwave sensor provider Aerotenna has partnered with Intel to launch the world’s first Intel SoC FPGA-based drone controller system. The new technology comes with both open source hardware and software to deliver a customised flight control platform to developers.

Coined as the Aerotenna OcPoC, the controller utilises ARM core and FPGA logic to enable the developments of smart drones with superior sensing and processing capabilities. There is a dual-core Cortex-A9 subsystem that works along with a Stratix V equivalent FPGC chip. Additionally, the controller has a redesigned microwave sensing system by Aerotenna to create miniaturised microwave radars that are unaffected by rain, blizzards or clouds and compatible with smaller airframes.

“The advantages of the OcPoC with Altera Cyclone open-source flight control platform will be greatly appreciated by developers with high-performance requirements. We firmly believe that SoC FPGA will be the technology of choice for next-generation drone applications,” said Dr. Zongbo Wang, co-founder and CEO, Aerotenna, in a statement.

The developer version of the OcPoC board is running on open source platforms such as Xilinx Petalinux, Ubuntu 14.04 or Ubuntu with Robot Operating System (ROS). The Kansas-based company is additionally in plans to release the source code of all its flight stack related files ahead the shipments of the hardware.

Priced at $499, the Aerotenna OcPoC controller includes an integrated IMU, barometer and GPS receiver and comes equipped with a CSI-camera interface. It has 100+ I/Os allow for sensor integration and features like sensor fusion, real-time AI and deep learning.