Drone-RK: A Real-Time Distributed UAV Platform

Drone-RK is an open-source real-time distributed UAV development infrastructure from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University. This project focuses on the software infrastructure required for self-contained autonomous UAV application development. Drone-RK currently runs on the Parrot AR.Drone hardware platform. Drone-RK provides Resource Kernel (RK) extensions to the standard Linux kernel that provide real-time scheduling extensions such that tasks in the system can specify their resource demands such that the operating system can provide timely, guaranteed and controlled access to system resources (CPU, network, sensors and actuators). The Drone-RK development platform provides APIs for local sensing, control and processing as well as various demonstration applications. In order to support rich autonomous behaviors, the platform provides hooks to incorporate additional hardware components (GPS, digital compasses, ultrasonic ranging, etc.) using our custom hardware expansion module.

Goals and Challenges

  • Autonomous operation using onboard computation
  • Provide an easy-to-use platform for exploring real-time scheduling paradigms
  • Logging and Debugging infrastructure for data collection / analysis
  • Distributed multi-agent coordination
  • Mobile sensing and communication

Custom Hardware Module

In order to support autonomy and easy integration of additional sensor, we have developed the Drone-RK hardware expansion module. It adds a low-speed long-range communication channel along with a GPS module and plenty of extra I/O.

The module has the following features:
  • ATmega128rfa1 Microcontroller
  • USB serial interface to the drone
  • 802.15.4 Radio with power amplifier (1km line-of-sight range)
  • GPS chipset


You can find all of our tutorials on this wiki page to get you started
Drone-RK Tutorials

Videos and Media

Please checkout our Videos page.

drone-hack.jpg - Hacked AR Drone (96.2 KB) Anthony Rowe, 12/30/2012 01:43 am

drone-1-thumb.jpg (57.4 KB) Anthony Rowe, 02/13/2013 10:56 am

ff-gps.jpg (59.1 KB) Anthony Rowe, 02/13/2013 10:56 am

drk2.jpg (72.8 KB) Anthony Rowe, 05/18/2013 04:15 pm

drk-parts.png (140 KB) Anthony Rowe, 05/18/2013 04:19 pm