Part of The definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2009
UAVs – A Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that has the capability of fully autonomous flight, without a pilot in control. Amateur UAVs are non-military and non-commercial. They typically fly under “recreational” exceptions to FAA regulations on UAVs, so long as the pilots/programmers keep them within tight limits on altitude and distance. Usually the UAV is controlled manually by Radio Control (RC) at take-off and landing, and switched into autonomous mode only at a safe altitude.
Ardupilot ArduPilot is a full-featured autopilot based on the Arduino open-source hardware platform. It uses infrared (thermopile) sensors for stabilization and GPS for navigation. It is the autopilot used to win the 2009 Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition. The hardware is available from Sparkfun. An expansion board (“Shield”) kits that includes an airspeed sensor, a 3.3v power regulator for 3.3v GPS modules and other sensors and cables and connectors for easy attachment of the XY and Z sensors. Price: $24.95 Visit the project page Buy one @ Maker Shed
Blimpduino The Blimpduino kit is a very low-cost, open source, autonomous blimp kit. It consists of an Arduino-based blimp controller board with onboard infrared and ultrasonic sensors and an interface for an optional RC mode, a simple gondola with two vectoring (tilting) differential thrusters, and ground-based infrared beacon. Price: $100 and up Visit the project page Buy one @ Maker Shed
Paparazzi Paparazzi is a free and open-source hardware and software project intended to create an exceptionally powerful and versatile autopilot system by allowing and encouraging input from the community. The project includes not only the airborne hardware and software, from voltage regulators and GPS receivers to Kalman filtering code, but also a powerful and ever-expanding array of ground hardware and software including modems, antennas, and a highly evolved user-friendly ground control software interface. Price: Various Visit the project page