There are two main stages to setting up a UAV Navigation autopilot (AP) in a customer's aircraft:
Integration. Includes the correct mechanical and electrical installation.
Adaptation. Covers the adjustment of the AP's software in order to control the UAV.
Integration is the subject of this article. It is a process normally carried out by the client with remote support provided by UAV Navigation engineers. Alternatively, UAV Navigation can provide integration as a service.
Should it be necessary, UAV Navigation also offers an Integration Course during which the client may acquire the skills needed to integrate an autopilot.
Experienced UAV Navigation engineers are available to assist the client’s technical team during the integration of the autopilot into the platform.
The Integration Process begins with the mechanical installation of the autopilot. At this stage UAV Navigation engineers can provide recommendations for anti-vibration mounts, depending on the platform type and characteristics. In order to obtain the best possible autopilot performance, the vibrations transmitted to the autopilot must be minimized. Different damping solutions may be tested in order to arrive at the optimum solution.
Once mechanically installed, the autopilot must be connected electrically to the other related onboard components. Different subsystems and components (e.g. Engine Control Unit, transponder, datalink, camera, GPS antenna, Air Data System (ADS) etc.) are correctly set up and linked, and the autopilot is configured to communicate and control the different payloads and sensors. Again, should the client wish to carry out this integration process, UAV Navigation engineers will be available for advice.
For the final part of the Integration Process, the engine may be started in order to verify that the data collected by all sensors is correct also with the engine running.
The goal of the Integration Process is to leave the platform ready and validated for the Adaptation Process.