As I've noted many times, one of the exciting things about open source is the way it is expanding to completely new areas. A good example of that is drones. People have a rather complicated view of drones: like most tools, they can be used for good or bad. But there's no doubt that making the software that controls them open source is a step in the right direction, since it means that drones don't remain the exclusive domain of big companies - or the military.
Against that background, the following news from the Linux Foundation is welcome:
The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the founding of the Dronecode Project. The Project will bring together existing open source drone projects and assets under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
The project already has a big name behind it:
Andrew Tridgell (“Tridge”) will become the chair of the Dronecode Project’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and have a seat on the board. He is a lead maintainer in the development of APM and is well recognized for his contributions to the open source software community, including his work as the author of the Samba file server.
As well as his crucially important work on Samba, Tridgell has been exploring the world of drones for some time, so he is uniquely well-placed to chair the technical steering comittee. As for the rest of the drone coding community:
More than 1,200 developers are working on Dronecode with more than 150 code commits a day on some projects. Examples of projects include APM, Mission Planner, MAVLink and DroidPlanner. The platform has been adopted by many of the organizations on the forefront of drone technology, including Skycatch, DroneDeploy, HobbyKing, Horizon Ag, PrecisionHawk, Agribotics, and Walkera, among others.
There's also something interesting about the companies involveD:
Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, jDrones, Laser Navigation, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec.
The name that jumps out here is Baidu, China's Google. Its appearance here among more specialist companies is fascinating. It suggests that, like Google, it sees drones as an important way of gathering information. Of course, in China that's a somewhat more fraught business, but it's worth noting that Baidu is busily expanding its services to other countries too. Moreover, it seems that it is the "Institute of Deep Learning" at Baidu that is involved. Make of that what you will...
All-in-all, then, this is great news for open source, drones, and for the Linux Foundation, which continues to apply skills it has acquired in nurturing the world of Linux to other domains:
The Dronecode Project is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. Collaborative Projects are independently funded software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems. By spreading the collaborative DNA of the largest collaborative software development project in history, The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so project hosts can focus on innovation and results.
I'm looking forward to the next one.