I'm very happy to have found this forum. It looks like the perfect place to ask for a question regarding a possible drone business I have in mind. I'm Ariel, a PhD student in the field of automatic control. As part of my research, I encountered the need of a platform easy to program and to expand/modify. And I think that idea is something worth building a product around. I want to make a platform based on a piloted or autonomous drone designed with hardware ports (for communication, power and external attachments) and a user-friendly communication API (using I2C, SPI, etc... for Arduino, python, C, ...) to be expanded with custom functionality very easily. As an example, imagine you want to develop an AI algorithm that detects if oranges are ready for harvest using a new camera sensor that does not exist in any commercially available drone. Then, you have to develop your algorithm plus also develop the drone integrating the camera you want to use. Which may be even more difficult than the AI project itself and it needs a completely different set of skills. With the platform I propose, you would only develop the AI algorithm with your camera, and since the platform is specially designed to be expanded, it can be easily integrated with minimum effort and without loosing time on drone development, after all your idea/product is the detection of orange's readiness not the drone itself. Do you guys know if something like this already exists? For the best of my knowledge the closest thing I can think of is the crazyflie, and although they grant full access to the programming environment, to implement new things you have to really enter deep into the code, where as I propose an API to interact between custom hardware and the drone. The idea that I envision is that adding new custom functionalities can be made as simple as the arduino platform has made it. Also, a key aspect that I want to develop is the possibility of autonomous flight and attitude hold control, for easy of piloting and operating. In addition, do you consider this may be of interest? I guess it could be attractive for makers and the DIY community, with an easy platform to test projects on drones. But also especially to all kind of business based on drones. My objective is they can develop their key gadget/product without having to focus on the drone control and manufacturing. What I believe can greatly help in reducing time to market and development costs. Have you found similar needs or similar problems?
If you have any comments please feel free to share with me, your inights can be very helpful for me. Thanks for your valuable time, Ariel