While drone technology itself is rapidly improving, pricing has also rapidly decreased. One of the drivers of this phenomenon is the open-source movement.
What is the open-source movement? According to Wikipedia:
The open-source movement is a broad-reaching movement of individuals who support the use of open source licenses for some or all software. Open source software is made available for anybody to use or modify, as its source code is made available. Some open-source software is based on a share-alike principle, whereby users are free to pass on the software subject to the stipulation that any enhancements or changes are just as freely available to the public, while other open-source projects may be freely incorporated into any derivative work, open-source or proprietary. Open source software promotes learning and understanding through the dissemination of understanding. The main difference between open-source and traditional proprietary software is in user and property rights, the conditions of use imposed on the user by the software license, as opposed to differences in the programming code.
Working together, the founding members of the Dronecode Foundation (3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera, and Yuneec) have joined the open-source movement and promote the open-source development of the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code.
Dronecode is growing too, which is great news for the drone industry at large. Seven companies have recently joined including Parrot.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ (UAV) applications and capabilities are advancing at a phenomenal rate, and the cost of these systems are decreasing at an equally impressive rate, largely because of open source. In many cases, open source projects are outpacing the development of their equivalent closed source systems.
To further accelerate these developments, in late 2014 several companies came together to form the Dronecode Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings together existing open source drone projects and assets under one umbrella organization governed by The Linux Foundation.
The Dronecode Project is an open source, collaborative project that brings together existing and future open source drone projects under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Dronecode will encourage the development of open source consumer and commercial UAV software by building and supporting a community of developers and providing them the resources and tools to help them innovate. The ultimate goal is to maximize adoption of the project’s code for the benefit of users with cheaper, better, and more reliable UAV software. The platform has already been adopted by the organizations on the forefront of drone technology.
Dronecode creates a neutral and transparent body that will leverage a contribution-based meritocracy that allows other parties and developers to influence and participate in the development and direction of the software. The project will provide coordination and prioritize funding for initiatives. Dronecode serves as a trusted and neutral home to become the de facto standard platform for drone/robotics open projects. By partnering with The Linux Foundation, the Dronecode community will have access to collaboration best practices and resources to spread the reach of collaboratively-developed and open software.