UAV Navigation in Depth: Traceability for a High Quality UAS Control System
In the aerospace industry, traceability, documentation and quality of every part are of critical importance. The development and final quality of products according to specification are crucial as it affects safety.
For this reason, quality is essential in every process, and it is critical for UAVN Navigation to have traceability in every development activity. From autopilot software development to final delivery to clients and during every phase of manufacturing, UAV Navigation (UAVN) operates a Quality Management System (QMS) to ensure the highest standards in all aspects of the Company's activity.
The software development process starts with the capture of requirements, either internal or under a client request. This is a crucial stage where it is critical to understand and communicate with the customers.
Before starting the development, the software and flight control departments collect all the information and create the related documentation. Once completed and carefully stored, the new code is written according to our SW development procedures and coding standards. Code reviews are constantly executed to check there are no negative consequences in other parts of the code and that the requirement is met efficiently and satisfactorily. During these peer code reviews, all commits are checked by different independent developers from the one who writes the code to ensure the software's quality.
After the conclusion of the development, an exhaustive testing process is carried out. During this step, the software passes an ATP (Acceptance Test Procedure). This ATP ensures the correct behaviour of all functionalities, including past requirements (SWRT: SW regression tests). Once an ATP is passed, the ATR (Acceptance Test Record) is generated. At this stage, the software has passed at least 12 hours of simulated flights.
Once the code development is finished, the documentation provided by the developer is adapted for a correct user understanding. This is a collaborative process where different departments within the company work to provide the technical documentation in a simple way.
Finally, the software is tested on internal flights using different platforms to fully validate it before releasing the new version. This process, which can take several weeks of flight tests, is carried out by our Flight Testing department and Flight Control engineers testing the designed software in harsher conditions than expected in normal operation (e.g. simulating multiple sensor failures, emergency actions etc.).
Aerospace engineering requires an ethos of continuous improvement, which is a key guiding principle of UAV Navigation; all systems and procedures within the Company are subject to continuous reviews so that the products and services offered to Customers are of only the highest quality.