3D Robotics, the largest U.S.-based drone manufacturer, today announced the launch of DroneKit, its open-source API for writing drone apps. Because 3D Robotics has always taken a platform approach, DroneKit will work with any drone that uses its APM autopilot (and while there are quite a few of those on the market, though this won’t work with any of the popular DJI drones, for example). Developers can write web-based drone apps with this new API, as well as mobile apps and apps that run right on the drone itself (written in Python).
3D Robotics argues that this new service abstracts away all the hard parts of building flight-control software and will allow developers to quickly write single-purpose apps for drones for agricultural surveys, search and rescue apps, or those that help you film your football practice session.
Using DroneKit, developers can program the vehicle to fly certain paths, follow a GPS target, control camera gimbals and get telemetry from the drone. In addition, developers can also log all of the drone’s movements for later analysis. As 3D Robotics notes, DroneKit will work for quadcopters, but also planes and rovers, which — besides the project’s open nature — sets it apart from similar offerings.