Users of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) will be happy to hear that the MAVLink developers have released software for ROS compatibility. MAVLink is a lightweight message transport used by more than five MAV autopilots and also offers support for two Ground Control Stations. This broad autopilot support allows ROS users to develop for multiple autopilot systems interchangeably. MAVLink also enables MAVs to be controlled from a distance: if you are out of wifi range, MAVLink can be used with radio modems to retain control up to 8 miles.
MAVLink was developed in the PIXHAWK project at ETH Zurich, where it is used as main communication protocol for autonomous quadrotors with onboard computer vision. MAVLink can also be used indoors on high-rate control links in systems like the ETH Flying Machine Arena.
MAVLink is compatible with two Ground Control Stations: QGroundControl and HK Ground Control Station. Ground Control Stations allow users to visualize the MAV's position in 3D and control its flight. Waypoints can be directly set in the 3D map to plan flights. You can customize the layout of QGroundControl to fit your needs, as shown in this video:
MAVLink is by now used by several mainstream autopilots:
- ArduPilotMega (main protocol)
- pxIMU Autopilot (main protocol)
- SLUGS Autopilot (main protocol)
- FLEXIPILOT (optional protocol)
- UAVDevBoard/Gentlenav/MatrixPilot (initial support)
For more information: