What is the Intel® Aero Platform for UAVs

Table of Contents

  Purpose of this document
  Target Audience
  What is the Intel Aero Platform
    Let’s look at two examples.
  The Intel Aero Compute Board
    Operating System
    Connector information
  Intel Aero Flight Controller
  Intel Vision Accessory Kit
  Intel Aero Enclosure Kit
  Intel RealSense Technology
  PX4 Autopilot firmware
  Intel Aero Ready to fly drone
  Intel Aero GitHub
  Sources

Introduction

This article introduces you to the Intel® Aero Platform for UAVs and gives you high-level understanding of what the platform is and some of its capabilities.

Target Audience

The Intel Aero Platform for UAVs is designed for developers who want to work with drone technology using open source technologies to create their own drone solutions.

What is the Intel Aero Platform for UAVs

The Intel Aero Platform for UAVs is a set of Intel® technologies that allow you to create applications that enable various drone functionalities. At its core are the Intel® Aero Compute Board and the Intel® Aero Flight Controller. The combination of these two hardware devices allows for powerful drone applications. The flight controller handles all aspects of drone flight, while the Intel Aero Compute Board handles real-time computation. The two can work in isolation from one another or communicate via the MAVlink* protocol.

Two examples:

Video streaming: When connected to a camera, the Intel Aero Compute Board can handle all the computations of connecting to the camera and then pulling that stream of data and doing something with it. Perhaps it’s streaming that data back to a ground control station via the built-in Wi-Fi* capabilities. All this computation is handled freely of the Aero flight controller.

Collision avoidance: The Intel Aero Compute Board is connected to a camera, this time the Intel® RealSense™ camera (R200). The application can pull depth data from the camera, crunch on that data, and make tactical maneuvers based on the environment around the drone. These maneuvers can be calculated on the Intel Aero Compute Board, and then using Mavlink, an altered course can be sent to the flight controller.

The Intel® Aero Compute Board

Operating system

The Intel Aero Compute Board uses a customized version of Yocto* Linux*. Plans are being considered to provide Ubuntu in the future. Keeping the Intel Aero Compute Board up to date with the latest image of Yocto is out of the scope of this document.

Connector information

1Power and console UART
2USB 3.0 OTG
3Interface for Intel RealSense camera (R200)
44 lane MIPI* interface for high-res camera
51 lane MIPI interface for VGA camera
680 pin flexible I/O supports third-party flight controller and accessories(I2C, UART, GPIOs)
7MicroSD memory card slot
8Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC
9M.2 Interface for PCIe* solid state drive
10Micro HDMI* port
RRESERVED for future use

Intel Aero Flight Controller

The Intel Aero flight controller is a separate hardware module. It uses the PX4* Autopilot firmware at its core for manipulating the flight of the drone. The flight controller hardware includes an STM32* microcontroller, a 6 degrees of freedom IMU, a magnetometer, and a pressure sensor, which are temperature-calibrated to offer improved performance in a broad range of environments. The Intel Aero Compute Board and the Aero Flight Controller communicate over a high-speed UART using the MAVLink communications protocol.Fle

Intel® Aero Vision Accessory Kit

The Intel® Aero Vision Accessory Kit contains three cameras: an Intel RealSense R200 camera, an 8-megapixel (MP) RGB camera, and a VGA camera that uses global shutter technology. With these three cameras, you have the ability to do depth detection using the Intel RealSense R200 camera to perform use cases such as collision avoidance and creating point cloud data. With the 8-MP camera, the user can collect and stream much higher-quality RGB data than what the Intel RealSense R200 camera is capable of streaming. With the VGA and its global shutter, one use case could be optical flow, which a developer could implement.

More detailed information about each camera can be found here.

Intel RealSense R200 camera

You can develop against the Intel RealSense R200 camera using the LibRealSense open source software library. This library also comes with multiple sample applications showing how you can take full advantage of the Intel RealSense R200 camera capabilities

8-MP RGB camera

VGA camera

Intel® Aero Enclosure Kit

The Intel® Aero Enclosure Kit enables you to keep your components safe from harm. This kit is durable plastic and houses the Intel Aero Compute Board, Aero flight controller, Intel RealSense R200 camera RGB, and VGA camera.

You can assemble the enclosure using the set of guided instructions that are supplied with the kit. You mount the Intel Aero Compute Board, the cameras, and all connections needed, in order to mount this to the Intel® Aero Ready to Fly Drone.

Intel® RealSense™ Technology

With Intel® RealSense™ technology using the Intel RealSense R200 camera, a user can stream depth data, RGB data, and IR data. The Intel Aero Platform for UAVs uses the open source library LibRealSense. This open source library is analogous to being a driver for the Intel RealSense R200 camera, allowing you to easily get streaming data from the camera. The library comes with several easy-to-understand tutorials for getting streaming up and running. For more information on using LibRealSense, visit the LibRealSense GitHub* site.

PX4* Autopilot Firmware

The Intel Aero flight controller is running a ported version of the PX4 Autopilot flight stack. This flight stack controls all aspects of flight, including the ability to interpret the commands coming from a hand-held remote control.

The PX4 Autopilot controls the overall speed of each rotor, interacts with GPS, and works with the QGroundcontrol station.

Intel® Aero Ready to Fly Drone

Intel is offering a complete package: the Intel Ready to Fly Drone kit will contain everything needed to get up and flying right out of the box. Intel worked with Yuneec to help create a developer drone. Yuneec provided a chassis, motors, and propellers. Intel is providing the Intel Aero Compute Board and the Intel Aero flight controller. The kit also contains the Spectrum DXe* radio/receiver and a GPS with external compass.

The goal is to help you get up and running quickly without having to go to various stores to build your own drone and piecemeal it together. Open the box, fly, have fun, then worry about how you might want to start developing.

Note that users must supply their own battery. To find requirements on battery specs, go to the Intel Aero Compute Board GitHub.

Intel Aero Compute Board and GitHub

Visit the Intel Aero Compute Board GitHub for various software code bases to keep your Intel Aero Compute Board up to date.

https://GitHub.com/intel-aero
https://GitHub.com/intel-aero/meta-intel-aero/wiki

Other Resources

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/technology-innovation/aerial-technology-overview.html
https://software.intel.com/en-us/realsense/aero
http://px4.io/
http://qgroundcontrol.com/
http://www.mavlink.org/mavlink/start
http://www.spektrumrc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdId=SPMR1000

 

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