The UAV Development Platform has been available on SparkFun's website for almost four years now. In that time, much progress has been made. A group of UAV pilots from across the globe have assembled and put their heads together to develop an extremely powerful control platform for RC airplanes and RC helicopters.
What sets the UAV dev board apart from others is that the control algorithms on the dsPIC controller are very precise even in heavy aerobatic maneuvers. The memory and speed on the dsPIC allows for rotational matrix math to be computed quickly. The method used is an implementation of a direction-cosine-matrix (DCM) algorithm.
An explanation of the DCM method is beyond the scope of this post, but the developers have written a great explanation found here.
To get an idea of how powerful this platform performs, check out the triple autonomous flight using a GentleLady sailplane with an electric motor.
Three autonomous flights were performed through take off and landing, with the closest landing within 6 meters of the target.
For an animated view, click here (you must have Google Earth installed).
The UAV dev board is constantly being revised with better and smaller hardware. Keep an eye on the product feed for new product updates!
If you are interested in working with a very lively and helpful UAV community or want more information about UAVs in general, be sure to check out DIYDrones.com.