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Fixed Independent Heading during Automatic Navigation for Rotary Wing Vehicles UAVs

The helicopter can provide an excellent solution for situations where the ability to provide a stable platform at a precise point in the sky for the payload is required. For this reason helicopters are commonly used for aerial filming services, for observation missions and for inspection tasks. However, the pilot, or autopilot in the case of an uncrewed platform, must have great piloting skill in order to ensure mission success, by placing the payload in the optimum position and pointing it at the desired location.

Various factors will affect the ability to optimize output from the payload. The flight plan must be designed to ensure that the payload points at the target from the best possible angle. In addition, external factors such as vibration of the helicopter itself and the adverse effect of wind on the aircraft may degrade the payload's ability to provide a perfectly stable image of the target, especially at longer distances. Some helicopter designs include undercarriage or antennae which may block the payload's view in some orientations.

UAV Navigation’s flight control solution for helicopters includes a 'Set Autopilot Heading' feature which means that the operator is able to treat commanded heading and commanded course independently. Whilst the helicopter executes the flight plan, the autopilot automatically ensures that the platform maintains either a fixed heading, or a heading taken from a reference point. This feature is demonstrated in the following Visionair video which shows a helicopter flying a flight plan around a ship, at which the operator wishes to point a camera:


Note how the helicopter takes advantage of its unique ability to fly sideways or even backwards in order to ensure that the payload always points at the target. Clearly there are limitations to what the particular platform is able to achieve for sideways flight at a particular airspeed, but this important autopilot capability shows how UAV Navigation's system is able to compensate for external factors in order to get the best possible picture from the payload.

The following article explains how UAV Navigation's autopilot outperforms other systems by flying a helicopter platform in the same way that a good human pilot would do: 

Rotary Wing Software: True Helicopter Performance

Note how the autopilot executes perfect coordinated turns and 'crabs' into a crosswind in order to fly the most efficient path between waypoints, at the same time minimizing stress on the platform, saving fuel and reducing noise.

UAV Navigation's flight control solution for uncrewed rotary wing platforms is recognized by leading helicopter UAV manufacturers as the most innovative and advanced on the market.

The aircraft maintains the wind heading keeping the path.


The helicopter nose points to the selected reference.

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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.