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Announcing the Pixhawk Payload Bus Open Standard

By April 29, 2021Announcements

Dronecode Foundation members develop Pixhawk Open Standards to drive interoperability of the drone ecosystem through open-source. The DF facilitates an open process to develop the open standards. The standards enable multiple implementations to be delivered into the market to benefit users and developers by enabling choices in a marketplace. 

Payloads are one of the essential components of drone systems. New product development or system integration also demands investing heavy engineering resources due to its diversity and complexity.

Enabling payload interoperability with a unified API

The DS-014 Payload Bus Standard gives design guidance to provide full interoperability between different camera models by defining a standard mechanical interface, the electronics, and MAVLink based camera protocol. The spec was designed with mid-sized payloads like full-frame DSLR cameras, medium-sized LIDAR scanners, or other custom sensors.

Comprehensive Hardware Interface

The electrical design is based on a 40 pin connector that exposes the features you need to develop a multi-payload interface with support for modern sensors

  • Ethernet
  • USB2.0
  • CAN FD
  • UART
  • TRIG

The specification is specifically designed with gimbals carrying mid-sized payload cameras in mind, with a number of possible configurations, ranging from a modern Ethernet + UART or USB + UART to a classic USB + VBUS + TRIG + CAPTURE, or even a UAVCAN based configuration.

MAVLink Based Software Interface

The Payload bus adheres to the latest MAVLink protocols for Cameras. Gimbals, and Actuators, you can expect out-of-the-box compatibility with any MAVLink compliant autopilot, mission planner app, or MAVSDK based system.

Made possible thanks to the open collaboration of our members

The DS-014 standardization process took over 18 months of development, with contributions and participation from Dronecode Foundation member companies and PX4 contributors. The Workgroup was led by Platinum member Auterion and Silver member Freefly Systems, who also were the top contributors to this standard.

Auterion firmly believes that an ecosystem of open hardware and software standards increases the efficiency of all involved parties. Standards like the new Pixhawk Payload Bus standard allow every partner in the ecosystem to focus valuable engineering time on their own core product and make the product compatible automatically. We are excited to be adding many PPB compatible payloads to our Skynode powered drones.

Thomas Gubler, Head of Avionics at Auterion

Integrating new payloads has never been this easy.

Thanks to the DS-014 Payload Bus Standard, the industry now has a recognized, proved, and tested framework for unified payload integration. Adopters can benefit from plug-n-play interoperability and significantly reduce their R&D requirements by using the standard. 

The first reference implementation is available in FreeFly Systems Astro, their latest commercial drone platform with RTK, and support for multiple payloads such as Wiris Pro, Sony A7R4, Flir Duo Pro R, and custom payload solutions.

The DS-014 Payload Bus Standard allows us to offer different payload options to our customers and users. This open standard is a milestone for the whole industry and will save adopters tremendous R&D time on integration.

Cory Schwarzmiller, Principal Embedded Systems Engineer at Freefly Systems
FreeFly Systems Astro with a Sony A7R4

The standard is now available for everyone to download

Want to participate in the Payload Workgroup?

Have any questions regarding the spec, or want to help us build the next generation of Pixhawk? Join the monthly coordination calls from the Payload workgroup, organized by the Dronecode Foundation.

The best way to contribute to the open efforts hosted under the Dronecode Foundation is to become a member. By becoming a member, organizations can help support open standards and guarantee the continued success of the open-source projects hosted under our umbrella.

Ramón Roche

Author Ramón Roche

Ramon is Dronecode's General Manager, you can read more about him on LinkedIn

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