Table of Contents


The free APM:Plane (formerly ArduPlane) firmware running on the APM autopilot gives any fixed-wing aircraft full autonomous capability.

APM:Plane provides advanced functions such as support for hundreds of three-dimensional waypoints, automatic take-off and landing as well as sophisticated mission planning and camera controls.

It works with the desktop Mission Planner ground station software to offer a compete UAV solution.

Programming and mission operations are done through an elegant and well-developed software interface. The entire package is designed to be easily approachable for the novice, while remaining open-ended for custom applications, education, and research use.

This is the platform that won the prestigious Outback Challenge UAV competition in both 2012 and 2014 as well as the 2014 Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition.

System components:

  • APM autopilot loaded with the latest version of APM:Plane firmware
  • Mission Planner software gives you an easy point-and-click setup/configuration, along with a full-featured ground control interface.

  • A suitable airframe for your mission.
  • Support tools and hardware for operating and maintaining your aircraft.
  • Plus many other useful options, such as two-way telemetry radios which allow in-flight communication and control between the robot and your computer.

Please use the instructional wiki located at the top of this page for further details on platform integration. 

Fixed-wing aircraft

A fixed-wing aircraft has both advantages and disadvantages in comparison with rotorcraft.  Fixed-wing aircraft tend to be more forgiving in the air in the face of both piloting and technical errors, as they have natural gliding capabilities with no power.  Fixed-wing aircraft also are able to carry greater payloads for longer distances on less power.  

When precision missions are required, fixed-wing aircraft are at a disadvantage, as they must have air moving over their wings to generate lift.  This means they must stay in forward motion, which means they can’t hover in one spot the way a copter can and as a result cannot provide the same level of precise camera positioning.

So for longer missions and more payload, a fixed-wing is your best choice. But for keeping a camera in one place, consider switching to a multicopter instead. The same APM autopilot can control that equally well by simply loading the APM:Copter code.




Questions about this page? Comments? Suggestions? Post to APM Forum! Use the platform specific to your query, and make sure to include the name of the page you are referring to.