Software-defined robotics firm Auterion has announced an update to its Skynode platform, designed to offer an all-in-one approach to drone autonomy, with the Skynode X — promising a reduction in size and weight yet a doubling in Flight Management Unit (FMU) compute power over the original.
"Skynode and AuterionOS drive the adoption of software-defined robotic fleets by offering the highest levels of integration," claims Auterion founder and chief executive officer Lorenz Meier. "The Skynode X updates ensure we are meeting the autonomy, reliability, and flexibility that our customers need, so large retailers can utilize and scale drone delivery programs and governments can perform their missions more efficiently and safely."
Succeeding the 2020 Skynode, the upgraded Skynode X comes in at a claimed 30 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter through a redesign which combines all core components into a single modular footprint. Despite the reduction in size and weight, though, the device boasts some impressive specifications — including a new integrated Flight Management Unit, the FMUv6x, which doubles the RAM and compute capabilities over the original Skynode.
Elsewhere in the Skynode X is a Mission Computer with a quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A53 processor running at up to 1.8GHz, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC storage as standard, and a hardware H.264 encoder capable of capturing 1080p60 footage. The system also includes a real-time clock, a MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI), and a 4G/LTE cellular module on-board — and comes running Auterion's custom software stack including support for the Robot Operating System 2 (ROS2) in Docker containers.
External interfaces available from the Flight Management Unit include two CAN and two UART buses, SPI, SBUS input and output, and 16 pulse-width modulation (PWM) channels, while the Mission Computer includes a USB Type-C USB 2.0 On-The-Go (OTG) port, two USB 2.0 ports, 100-Base-T Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, on top of the aforementioned cellular connectivity. There's also a Pixhawk Payload Bus, offering Ethernet, USB, UART, and CAN bus connectivity, plus a trigger and a GPS pulse-per-second (PPS) connection.
The company claims the new Skynode X is suitable for vehicles of any size, including multi-copter, fixed-wing, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones as well as land-based rovers and water-based boats, with an intuitive user interface provided through the company's Auterion Mission Control software. The Docker container system also provides room for software expansion, including the ability to run computer vision algorithms on-device.
Interested parties can learn more about the Skynode X on Auterion's website; pricing for the Skynode X and the Evaluation Kit accessories required for experimentation and development is available on application.