Don’t play Taps for 3DR‘s Solo yet. 3DR’s CEO Chris Anderson tweeted today that the Solo is getting a second life.
In an article title “The Solo Lives On,” on the ArduPilot Blog – ArduPilot is an opensource autopilot system – the team explains how a community of developers worked to give the Solo a “heart transplant.” The developer of the Pixhawk2 hardware flight system, the Solo’s stock system, has developed a bolt-on replacement which will allow for new ArduCopter firmware changes.
It’s a development that apparently has 3DR’s full support. Originally one of the major providers of recreational drones in the world with it’s Solo, once called “One Scary Smart Drone” by Wired magazine, 3DR has changed its orientation entirely and abandoned the recreational market to pursue the commercial sector. The company could not compete against manufacturing giant DJI‘s price cuts even after several adjustments to its manufacturing operations, and was left with a warehouse full of Solos after a disastrous 2014 holiday season. 3DR halted production entirely in 2015.
That left a lot of recreational and professional operators holding the bag. The Solo had many fans and was a reliable and reasonably priced prosumer drone. And while 2 years may seem like an eternity in the drone industry, many operators are still using the Solo.
“However, many users and developers were not ready to give up as quite as easily. If 3DR won’t keep the Solo alive, the rest of us will,” says the ArduCopter blog post. “Hardware developers, firmware developers, GCS developers, and beta testers all hit the ground running to make it happen.”
The 3DR blog is all about the company’s commercial product, SiteScan, these days. But CEO Anderson indicated support for the project on Twitter:
The @3DRobotics Solo is getting a second life as an open source platform. We’ll be releasing more code soon.
— Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) July 28, 2017
Reminded that he had once said that any open source project “will eventually turn into a bitter divorce,” the CEO responded with wry humor: “we’re on our second marriage.” It’s a marriage Solo owners are celebrating.
Correction – A previous version of this post mistakenly stated the the Pixhawk2 was obsolete. It is not and we apologize for the error.