MAVLink Communication Protocol: the open standard

May 23, 2022


MAVLink: a communication protocol. From a technological perspective, it’s about sending telemetry (drone positions and other things) from a drone to other drones or to the ground station. 

The exciting part of it is that everyone is starting to or already uses MAVLink—even companies that don’t use open source software. MAVLink is quickly becoming the HTML of drones.

What it brings to the drone industry is having only one communication standard. That means that different drones, ground stations, and payloads are all talking in one language, which brings more choice to the whole industry from manufacturers to end users and prevents vendor lock-in.

That’s what MAVLink is all about, bringing interoperability, innovation, and growth to a whole industry.

MAVLink Is for All Autonomous Systems

MAVLink isn’t bound to aerial vehicles, it can be integrated into all sorts of different types of autonomous systems. It’s also being used on all sorts of vehicles including rovers, boats, and blimps.

Drones move freely in 3D space, which is the most generic case you have for any sort of communication about position or velocity. It’s therefore logical that the same protocol can be used for other vehicles like a rover that moves in 2D, or even for a submarine, another 3D vehicle on the other side of the ocean’s surface.

Controlling Multiple Vehicles

Operators that have multiple vehicles that operate on the MAVLink standard can standardize their operation and potentially use one controller for different products. It’s possible to use a test suite to verify if a set of vehicles are true to the MAVLink standard. If so, then it’s possible to control all of these different assets—even from different vendors—successfully.

Live Chat

Watch the live chat on the topic between Romeo Durscher and Lorenz Meier.

Up Next

All these different components we have talked about in the Live chat and wrote about in previous blog posts are starting to get connected and that’s not just by coincidence, it’s by choice. This is what it means to have open source, open standards and then you put that around a Pixhawk and integrate it with software and standards like MAVLink. It becomes a fully connected picture. And we’re going to explore payloads in our next post.