- Mechanical installation: the AP must be physically installed and connected correctly with the other onboard systems (servos, airspeed sensors, GPS antenna etc).
- Adaptation: The AP's standard software must be calibrated correctly; the output of this process is a gains file (including approximately 60 different settings) which allows the autopilot to control the UAV safely within its flight envelope.
- Simple Adaptation: suitable for low-cost UAVs where the development of a full simulator is not required and flight trials can be conducted safely during development of the gains settings.
- Complex Adaptation: for more complex, high-value projects the risk of accidents during flight trials is unacceptable. A complete set of control gains must therefore be developed using advanced simulation techniques.
|1||Working from the physical characteristics of the platform, UAVN's engineers derive a basic configuration preset for the AP based on a reduced set of calculations, drawing on experience with similar aircraft which have been adapted before. This process consists of modelling and preparation in the office.||1 week|
With the basic configuration, UAVN then conducts initial flight tests with the assistance of an External Pilot (aka 'Safety Pilot'). The aim is to tune the control loops in real time, including SAS and CAS, and Guidance loops.
|1 day to 1 week|
|3||Back in the office, UAVN engineers use Matlab/Scilab to analyse flight telemetry and make more adjustments to the gains.||2 days|
|4||With the refined gains settings, the engineers go back to the flying site for confirmatory flights.||2 days|
|1||Before going to fly, a complete 6DOF model is derived from information about the platform obtained directly from the manufacturer of the aircraft (NB: UAV Navigation treats the aircraft as a rigid body only - aeroelastic effects are not taken into account).||2 to 4 weeks|
(optional) The platform's performance may be measured during a 'Passenger Flight', whereby the autopilot is flown passively within the aircraft, recording all flight parameters to a log file in a datalogger.
|3||Modelling and simulator refinement.||2 weeks|
|4||Once a comprehensive 6DOF model has been developed, actual flight trials can take place with the assurance that the autopilot will be able to control the aircraft safely from take-off. If necessary, minor changes may be made to the gains settings - although this is usually not necessary.||3 sessions of 1 week each|
- Mechanical Installation & Adaptation