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Flight Control for Fixed Wing UAVs

GNSS Denied Navigation
GNSS Denied Navigation

Exceptional performance in GNSS-denied environments and when there is a jamming threat. High quality components and an EMI/EMC resistant design (tested to MIL-STD-461), together with advanced estimation logic, serve to mitigate the impact of certain high-power signals and allow precise dead-reckoning navigation even when a reliable GNSS signal becomes unavailable.

Camera Guided Mode for Target Following

The autopilot is able to follow air or ground vehicles that send their coordinates or moving target coordinates provided by a camera. The targets can be followed with a specific time separation defined by the operator or by executing complex flight plans which update their waypoint’s coordinates according to the reference source.

Automatic Emergency Procedures to Ensure Fly Safety

The autopilot system is designed to respond autonomously to various emergency situations, including anti-stalls, gliding flight mode, and single sensor failure protection. It also incorporates FTS control, and multiple landing flight plans to ensure the safest outcome in case of contingencies, enabling the autopilot to select the most appropriate plan based on the specific emergency condition. 


Planned Advanced Missions Easily

The system may execute advanced missions where different automatic actions on waypoints are available. These actions ease the planning of several mission types: border surveillance, infrastructure inspection, naval operations, reference following… The operation may be fully automatic, including take-off and precision landings, by taking advantage of the readings from a radar, laser altimeter unit, or enhanced GNSS solutions (RTK, DGNSS).

Multi-UAV and Multi-GCS Operations
Multi-UAV and Multi-GCS Operations

The UAV Navigation solution allows the flying of several UAVs, or it can detect commands received from more than one GCS simultaneously. This can be done in different configurations: one operator controlling multiple UAVs or several operators controlling multiple UAVs and eases the execution of handover manoeuvres.

Sense and Avoidance (SAA) Built-In Capabilities

The operator can define fixed or moving No-Fly Zones (NFZ) and configure the autopilot to automatically re-plan the mission to avoid them and reach the destination even under communication failures. Also, the flight control system can detect the surrounding traffic and obstacles with the integration of a transponder ADS-B IN/OUT and/or visual-based obstacle detection technology.

Since 2004 UAV Navigation has provided complete flight control solutions for all configurations and sizes of fixed wing platforms. Current clients around the world include manufacturers of conventional fixed wing, VTOL platforms, flying wing and blended wing designs, low speed hand-launched platforms, tandem wing UAVs, Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) aircraft and other types of unconventional fixed wing configurations. The system is capable of controlling all size of fixed wing design, from small <2kg electric platforms up to the largest current fixed wing UAV which has an MTOW of 1,250kg. The autopilot is able to control the aircraft safely within its flight envelope, and the system allows for different configurations to be loaded into the autopilot to allow for changing conditions (e.g. if the UAV drops a cargo and the weight of the aircraft changes mid-flight). 



Fixed Wing Solutions

UAV Navigation has developed an advanced Hardware In the Loop (HIL) simulator to minimize risk during the development phase of a project and train operators in both standard and emergency procedures. A virtual model of the client's platform is used in order to produce software specifically tailored to the aircraft flight characteristics. If necessary any special requirements from the client can be developed at this stage (e.g. integration of a particular camera, other payloads or new specific functionalities in the system).


The autopilot takes care of all the basic tasks of flying the platform safely, including fully auto take-off and landing, Return-To-Base, complex flight plans including health monitoring, configurable GeoFencing etc. In addition to the basics, the autopilot can also interact with a wide variety of payloads, including complex gyro-stabilized gimbals (DST, UAV Vision, Octopus, etc.), transponders, laser altimeters, radar altimeters and laser designators for advanced functions such as geo-referenced pointing and target tracking or perform high precision and dynamic maneuvers including moving runway take-off and landing (for sea operations), balloon-drop takeoff or multi-UAV operations. The flight control solution performs precision runway landings without using expensive DGPS/RTK systems.


The solution includes an advanced Flight Plan Editor to plan your mission including actions on waypoints, create flight profiles relative to moving references or memorize multiple flight plans including alternative and emergency landing plans. The autopilot also allows for the modification of the flight plan even if the aircraft is on flight.


Despite its small size, UAV Navigation's product is a complete autopilot, meaning that the unit contains all of the sensors required to fly the aircraft; no extra sensors or boxes are required other than the servos to move the control surfaces. However external sensors can be added to complement system performance such as an altimeter, fuel sensor, ECU etc.


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Other Special Features for Fixed Wing Platforms

  • Compact unit with Qualified Hardware. No external sensors, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) or Mission Management Computer are required - they are already integrated into the same box. The hardware is MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD 461F. This proves that the system has been tested by an independent party that certifies its outstanding performance in adverse conditions.
  • Online Hard Iron Calibration.   The OLHIC Algorithm ensures that the built-in magnetometer is constantly being monitored and calibrated during flight. This minimizes any accumulated in-flight error due to magnetic drift.
  • Status monitoring and automatic emergency procedures.   The system can be configured to detect unsafe situations and to deploy a Flight Termination System (FTS), or start a return to base maneuver automatically.
  • Multiple gains settings.   The autopilot can be loaded with more than one set of gains ('gains banks'). This allows automatic interpolation of gains depending on airspeed. This capability guarantees the best possible control under all flight conditions. The gains’ access is guaranteed after receiving the Advanced Gains Adjustment course.
  • Multi-UAV operation.   The Multi-UAV capability allows the system to control multiple UAVs from a single instance of the Ground Control Station (GCS).
  • Automation.   Varying grades of automation of the control mechanism are possible (full manual, assisted manual, full auto, payload driven).
  • Geofencing.   The system features No-Fly Zones which can be updated in real time. 
  • Health monitoring.   The system is capable of receiving failure alarms from other systems in the aircraft, or from the autopilot itself, and to implement an emergency recovery manoeuvre.
  • Sea operations.   The autopilot has been extensively tested in sea environments. Operation using moving flight plans (i.e. GCS onboard a ship) or landing sites are possible. The system may be configured to work with a GCS in motion.
  • Integrated ADS.   The use of a built-in Air Data System (ADS) allows the autopilot to fly according to airspeed instead of GPS speed; this results in a more efficient flight under all possible scenarios. Also, in case of GPS signal loss (dead reckoning) or magnetometer failure, the ADS allows the aircraft to continue the operation safely.
  • High precision take-off and landing in adverse conditions. High precision take off and landing in adverse conditions with multiple landing logics.
  • Barometric Altitude Control. In the next future, UAV should be able to operate in non segregated airspace. For that reason, our autopilots are able to fly according to barometric altitude.
  • Stall Protection feature which is able to detect an engine failure and automatically start efficient gliding in order to maximize range and autonomy in order to reach a safe landing zone.

Built in capability to add third party telemetry to the autopilot's data stream.

For the most demanding fixed wing applications where ultimate performance, reliability and connectivity are required, the VECTOR-600 autopilot is the natural choice for the professional.

Case Study

Case Study

Case Study

For a more detailed description of the UAV Navigation FCS

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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.