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UAV Navigation in Depth: Customization or Certification

As the world leader in professional UAV autopilots, we understand the needs and requirements of our clients and main actors in the sector. At UAV Navigation, we know that one of the most important capabilities sought by the platform manufacturers is customization capability. 

The pursuit of balance between flexibility, this is, the possibility of modifying the software and hardware, and a turnkey and certifiable system are very difficult to reach. The aircraft’s system design and verification process require a complete and very demanding program of analysis, requirement consolidation, verifications, and tests that concern every single subsystem inside the platform. 

As an example of this demanding process, aerospace software certification is a process that requires a very clear and well-written source code, with strict rules that only experienced professionals may modify and develop to ensure the reliability of the system. Software and airborne electronic hardware, critical parts of the development and whose errors could directly lead to operations risk must be developed to an industry-standard or methodology that is recognized as being adequate by the competent authority.

In this sense, counting on a professional team, formed and with experience in the process, is a key asset, otherwise, many work hours may be useless to the final objective.

Being aware and knowledgeable of the certification process at UAV Navigation, we worked side by side with our clients to understand their final requirements and decide the best certification strategy to get the approval.

One of these strategies is the use of the VECTOR-MCC, a Mission Control Computer that enables the possibility of creating a segregated architecture that makes the certification process easier and helps to establish the different DAL levels in the architecture. This way, flight safety is ensured as the unit with FCC functionalities is isolated from payload features, reducing failure probability and system/code complexity. 

Likewise, UAV Navigation allows the client to modify the behavior of the autopilot (also known as FCC, Flight Control Computer) through the modification of internal gains and configuration variables without being necessary to make major software changes. This is done as we ensure flight safety since we provide our clients with the skills necessary in the Advanced Gains Adjustment Course.

The capability of developing and modifying the source code and the certification process does not have to be different paths as they can travel together with the correct partners. There is not only one normative or strategy to achieve certification and it is important to be advised by the best professionals and a solid commitment of reliability with their clients.

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UAV Navigation is a privately-owned company that has specialized in the design of flight control solutions for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) since 2004. It is used by a variety of Tier 1 aerospace manufacturers in a wide range of UAV - also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or 'drones'. These include high-performance tactical unmanned planes, aerial targets, mini-UAVs and helicopters.