PX4 Vision 1.5 platform- I do not recommend

I currently can’t recommend the PX4 Vision 1.5 platform from Holybro. The hardware is all good- except that the structure core camera doesn’t look like it is supported any longer. Structure is removing all links to the Structure Core camera and have completely removed the forums on their own website limiting support options. I have reached out to Structure Support 3 times over the last 2 weeks with no response because their SDK website isn’t allowing for downloading of the 0.7.3 SDk which is what the PX4 Vision 1.5 was built on. Because of that I am forced to either upgrade the structure core camera to the latest firmware…which breaks the PX4 Avoidance ROS nodes because it was built with Structure SDK 0.7.2 or not be able to use the testing tools that are available in the SDK because I can’t even download it.

Beyond that Auterion has done an AWFUL job documenting this device. It is on the user to understand how ROS1 is setup and it is your job to reverse engineer how they setup ROS1 with PX4 Avoidance because there is 0 Docmentation on it.

There is no documentation on which nodes are running or even how data is flowing through ROS1 to PX4.

Here is one last thing that is really bothering me. How in the world is the Pixhawk 6C getting data to and from the companion computer? It looks like they had to build a custom firmware of PX4 to enable bonded serial communciation through the Pixhawk ports to the Companion computer. But again- nothing is documented so who knows.

I’m afraid that if PX4 gets updated- that the PX4 Vision 1.5 frame will not be updated at the same time and because there is no documentation on how it is setup- it will be really hard to recreate.

P.S. If you are planning on doing GPS Denied environments- the optical flow sensor they choose is really awful and does NOT work in in even low light conditions let alone dark conditions. But I did upgrade with an Ark Flow and have had a bunch of success that way. Thanks Alex =)

Edit: Here is another thing- with a 3000mah 4S battery I was barely getting 6 minutes of flight time. Had to upgrade to an 8400 mah 4S lion to get over 15 minutes and then had to redo the entire tuning (of course because I added 300 grams on top)

Edit 2: More gripes I’m thinking about. The Structure SDK version that Auterion chose to use on the newer version of the PX4 Vision (the 1.5 model) still uses an SDK from Jan 2020…the version 0.7.2 was release on January 22, 2020

Edit 3: I’d like to upgrade to ROS2 and Structure SDK 0.9 but because Auterion didn’t document how they are sending and receiving data to and from the PX4 Autopilot- I don’t know how to resetup the newer ROS2 environment. Again- something I’m required to reverse engineer because they couldn’t be bothered to take the hour to write it all down for us.

Edit 4: I have reached out to Auterion support with no response back in almost 3 weeks.

@Jhiggy While Auterion did provide the software that is shipped with the PX4 Vision Kit, it is not actively maintained or developed by the company. Contributions from the community are therefore always welcome and, in this case, needed!

In the mean time, I can offer some pointers regarding the PX4-ROS communication:

As mentioned here, the FMU and companion computer communicate over MAVLink, and in particular MAVROS. The PX4-Avoidance readme provides some guidance on how to install this.

MAVROS is starting to support ROS2 and should therefore be suitable for testing if you are going to ROS2.

I would also strongly encourage you to use the PX4-Avoidance issues to bring up specific challenges that you face. That way we can raise awareness and gather input from the community.

@DanMesh Totally understand they are no longer involved…it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have documented properly before releasing it. This is my biggest gripe. I didn’t expect them to provide any support going forward- just give me what was promised- a dev kit- which typically includes documentation of AT LEAST of how it is all setup.

This is mostly around the ROS Wrapper for Structure Core that Auterion setup and release. Of course I can go in a look at what topics it is publishing and where- but why should I have to reverse engineer their design??? Their code isn’t even commented on…is this normal for a software release? How do they even remember how it works if they don’t comment it?

I would not have purchased this if I knew the documentation was in such a bad state. I would have been better of just setting up my own device…it didn’t save me anytime and in fact I would say it took more time out than had I just set it up myself.

That goes for Structure as well!! Their documentation is horrible and it doesn’t look like the Structure Core camera is even being sold any longer.

What you did was exactly what Auterion did- just pointed me to the documentation on how to setup any Avoidance…not their avoidance. Of course I can go through the documentation for each piece and figure out how they set it up.

For example. I want to update the Structure Core Firmware. They are on an old version of the SDK. Where should I start for this? Because I followed both Structure’s documentation and the little bit I did find on how Auterion set it up. It fails even though I have followed what should have worked. It doesn’t look like Auterion did a standard setup of the ROS Wrapper…so now where do I go?

Had they properly documented how the Structure Core ROS Wrapper was installed and setup…I bet I could figure it out =)

@DanMesh Do you work for Auterion?