Embedded Systems Software Development, Firmware Programming & Drone Software Design/Testing Services

Developing Bespoke Commerical Drone Software

Pierre Tilak, Director and founder of Tilak.io. talks to UST about the company's achievements in working on PX4, ArduPilot, QGroundControl, streaming video to the ground, and adding new features to DJI drones Feature Article by Tilak.io
Developing Bespoke Commerical Drone Software
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An experienced developer of custom software for commercial drones, Tilak.io has been supporting industrial drone companies with their software development since 2020.

UST sat down with Pierre Tilak, Director and founder of Tilak.io to discuss the company’s open-source software customisation services, turnkey software design, and the growing customer base in Australia, Germany, France, and the UK.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. As specialists in custom software development for drones and UAVs, what key challenges do your customers typically ask you to address?

It’s a pleasure to do so. We work with different types of companies, it goes from a small startup with a handful of people to bigger companies with around 100 employees. The challenges they are facing are therefore quite different

A small business will often lack features using off-the-shelf products and will contact us to develop tailored software to fit their application. In that case, we design a turnkey software solution including ground control app and flight control entirely ourselves. We take part of the customer’s project as if it were ours, and help them to bring successful products to the market.

More established companies will face difficulties hiring engineers with strong experience in drone software. In that case, our engineers will be part of the customer’s team and be involved in the teams’ everyday life, including meetings, sprint planning, etc.
That’s also where we shine as Tilak.io engineers are hard workers, and highly skilled, and because we work in different companies, we have enough experience to know what will work and what won’t.

Lastly, we also meet companies that have projects outside their roadmap, or a technical debt that their team is too busy to take on. We offer to manage and develop those projects for them and take care of their technical debt.

You specialize in streaming video to the ground, PX4, ArduPilot, and QGroundControl. Can you tell us more about how Tilak.io can use these to support drone manufacturers?

Video streaming is a common case where configuration can be a challenge for the final user. We offer seamless integration with Gstreamer by dealing with IP addresses, UDP/TCP settings, etc. and make the user experience flawless. That’s what we call complete integration.

We are also fully equipped to customize any part of software from the open-source world (PX4, QGroundControl, Ardupilot). 
A few examples of this include:

  • Troubleshooting Kalman filter issues
  • Working on VTOL transition
  • Adding custom flight modes
  • Modifying geofence features
  • Adding more telemetry data to the control station
  • Customizing the flight planning process

You are involved in adding new features to DJI drones, and implementing software on onboard computers for data acquisition. Do you have any examples of this you can share with our readers?

It goes without saying that DJI is one of the main actors in the drone industry. Being able to integrate features into those platforms is therefore crucial. 
With the help of DJI SDK we can now adapt their product to fit customers needs.

To illustrate, an internal project we did was to develop a version of QGroundControl that talks to DJI Drones (including Mavic series). This was made possible by using DJI Mobile SDK. We were able to fly a mapping mission, gather data and do a full photogrammetry survey using QGC and a Mavic Pro as a validation test.

We also made use of Payload SDK in our software to get telemetry data and geotag acquisition in real-time.

This allows us to design widgets on DJI PIlot, so the operator can control a custom payload (get information in real-time as well as send commands) directly from their controller using the standard DJI app that is shipped with the drone. It opens many doors for a complete integration, easily portable over a fleet of different drones.

What would be your ideal project to work on in the future?

We’re passionate and curious by nature. I would say technical challenge is what we enjoy the most. Ideally that would be a long-term project to design, and put in the air, something that hasn’t been done before.

You currently have customers in 4 countries and are expanding quickly, can you tell us more about where you think the drone industry is heading and your plans for the future?

We love to work with people from all over the world, and see it as a prime opportunity to widen our horizons, learn and gain valuable experiences from companies in other countries.

I started working in the drone industry back in 2015, when the technology was in its infancy.
The drone industry is now established in everyone’s mind, and the benefits of drone use have been proven.
I predict the next few years will see changes in certification, enabling new drone operations and fresh market opportunities.

For me, drones entered the industry from the air and the next chapter will be about conquering the ground and seas.
At Tilak.io, we’re ready to embrace all the coming changes in drone technology, as we will be part of it.

We currently aim to structure our team and grow to around 5 or 7 engineers, staying small and flexible whilst always ready to take on new challenges.

Thanks Pierre, it’s been really insightful talking to you and we’re enjoying watching Tilak.io go from strength to strength.

To learn more, contact Tilak.io: Visit Website Send Message View Supplier Profile
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