OpenVulture, software for unmanned vehicles


The first talk of ShmooCon was [Ethan O'Toole] and [Matt Davis] presenting their OpenVulture software for unmanned vehicles. In the initial stages, they had just planned on building software for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, but realized that with the proper planning it could be used with any vehicle: airplanes, cars, boats, and subs (or more specifically, their Barbie PowerWheels). The software is in two parts. First is a library that lets you communicate with each of the vehicle’s modules. The second half is the actual navigation software.

They’ve spent a lot of time sourcing hardware modules. They are looking for items that work well, aren’t too expensive, and have a fairly plug and play implementation. For their main processor, they wanted something that wasn’t a microcontroller and could run a full Linux system. The ARM based NSLU2 NAS seems to be the current frontrunner. You can find the opensource software and descriptions of the supported modules on their site.

They’re building the first test UAVs now. One has a 12 foot wingspan for greater lift and stability. We’ve covered the Arduino based Ardupilot and other UAVs in the past.


  1. hum4n says:

    I remember power wheels! I had a dump truck!

  2. wafermouse says:

    oh man, no video? :(

  3. strider_mt2k says:

    Good ol’ power wheels.

    Some knucklehead tried to tell me they couldn’t be made into an RC vehicle.
    My first rov was based on a barbie power wheels jeep.

    I sprayed mine primer gray though.

    Ultimately I didn’t like the steering/traction problems and I built a differential design from scratch.

    “Probe II sg” was _much_ more successful and still resides in my closet, mothballed.

  4. ragnar says:

    I just comment for the pure fact that someone nicked his daughters “My Barbies pink Ponys first Beach Buggy” to make an UAV (or UGV?)

  5. yoyodyn says:

    Nah, He didn’t nick it. She can still drive it, he can just make it bring her home on its own now. She is in for a surprise on her sweet 16…

  6. strider_mt2k says:

    Well at least it won’t leave itself in the driveway.


  7. rik says:
  8. Iv says:

    Dead link ? The domain seems to have expired. Does anyone have a link to their website ? This highly interests me.

  9. polymath says:

    had a friend who got the fire truck for his birthday. his dad built some strobe circuits and put them in red boxes so he’d have the flashing lights.

    so how long before the “automatic return home” function becomes standard on these things? “lose your child? not any more! all power wheels now come with on star and the auto return feature! now you can bring junior home with the press of a button.”

  10. Matt says:

    iv: It’s back up. Of course the domain would be set to expire at one of the most inconvenient times!

  11. Adam says:

    why wouldn’t you just use paparazzi?

  12. nathan says:

    Or ardupilot, or player / stage, or any of the other UAV systems already in existance? From reading the docs, it doesn’t look like it adds anything to player / stage.

  13. derek says:

    nice post, thanks for the great info, cant wait to read more from you.

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