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Flight Control for Rotary Wing UAVs

GNSS Denied Navigation
GNSS Denied Navigation

Exceptional performance in GNSS-denied environments and under jamming attacks. The MIL-STD-461F qualified components and the advanced estimation logics allow precise dead-reckoning navigation even without reliable GNSS connectivity.          

Engine & Tail Failure Protection: Autorotation

UAV Navigation has developed a fully-functional and proven autorotation capability for helicopter UAV platforms. This highly advanced feature allows the autopilot to land the aircraft safely in case of a loss of engine power or tail rotor failure. A safe descent is performed, followed by a flare maneuver. During the maneuver, the operator can correct the trajectory to ensure a safer landing. UAV Navigation's VECTOR autopilot is one of the very few autopilots that features fully functional autorotation capability.

Fully Automatic Maritime Operations

The Flight Control Solution allows take-off from and landing on moving vessels. To ensure a safer operation, this logic is enhanced with a swell compensation which allows flying under challenging sea conditions

Efficient High-Speed Applications

The Flight Control Solution can be used to deploy efficient high-speed applications thanks to the automatic interpolation of gains depending on airspeed and the ability of the system to reorient the platform according to the cross-wind direction. This way, the aerodynamic load on control surfaces as well as the acoustic emissions, battery or fuel consumption, are reduced even at high speeds.

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.

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 rotary-wing platforms of all configurations and sizes. Current clients include manufacturers of conventional helicopters, intermeshing blade designs, coaxials, tandem rotors and multirotor designs.

The system is capable of controlling rotary wing designs of all sizes — from smaller platforms the weigh under twenty kilograms to those with an MTOW of 1,361 kilograms and more. As you may have figured out, UAV Navigation’s autopilots can be used for many different platform types; the same hardware is used but different software is loaded.

UAV Navigation has developed an advanced Hardware In the Loop (HIL) simulator to minimize risk during the development phase of a project. Upon receiving a client request, our engineers can simulate the client's platform in order to produce a set of gains specifically tailored to its flight characteristics.

The autopilot takes care of all the basic tasks of flying the platform safely, including fully auto take-off and landing, Return-To-Base, multiple waypoints, hover, 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, lidars, laser altimeters, radar altimeters and laser designators for advanced functions such as geo-referenced pointing and target tracking.


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.

Fully Automatic Autorotation

Autonomous Maritime Operations

High Speed Operations

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Other Special Features for Rotary Wing Platforms

  • Compact unit. VECTOR-600 has all the necessary sensors built-in. However, the system can be enhanced with external sensors such as the MG01 and DGC01, which help improve the heading estimation under strong magnetic fields (high current electric motors).
  • Capable to fly similarly to a fixed wing platformThe autopilot takes account of the prevailing wind condition and controls the helicopter to follow the track whilst maintaining the most efficient profile, pointing the nose into the wind.
  • Integrated governor. The autopilot features a built-in governor which is able to take readings directly from an RPM sensor. This allows the autopilot to manage engine power in order to maintain optimum RPM in all flight modes and phases of the mission. This function also allows the autopilot to manage completely automatic spool up of the rotor before take-off and also slow down before the engine stops at the end of a mission. 
  • Rotor Overspeed Protection. The autopilot includes a feature that allows it to protect the overspeeding of the main rotor/s, automatically reducing the flying envelope when the overspeed is detected by the RPM readings. This way, structural stress on the main rotor/s is reduced.
  • Certified Hardware. The hardware is certified to MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD 461F.
  • Automatic Actions on Waypoints. The user can configure automatic actions on waypoints while planning the mission or during the operation itself. It is possible to determine the flight behavior of the UAV (overfly, loiter, hover, jumps between waypoints and flight plans…) as well as to schedule events such as switch activations for cargo release.
  • Altitude Protection. By taking advantage of readings from a radar or laser altimeter unit, the autopilot is able to maintain accurate height above ground, which can be critical for low altitude operations of hover maneuvers where a precise height must be maintained.
  • Use of integrated ADS. The use of an in-built Air Data System (ADS) allows the autopilot to fly according to airspeed and barometric altitude instead of using the GNSS signal. So, the VECTOR-600 autopilot is the best choice when the optimum performance of rotary-wing applications is essential.
  • Servo Feedback Monitoring. The system is able to monitor the difference between the commanded position and servo feedback for both PWM and serial servos. This maintains the simplicity of the system installation but ensures higher safety.
  • Flight Plan Generator. The operator can easily configure a fight plan to let the UAV cover a designated area in the most efficient way. This functionality is strategic for Search & Rescue as well as crop-spraying missions, amongst other tasks.
  • Integrated ATC Monitoring & Geofencing Capabilities. UAV Navigation's Flight Control System is compatible with Transponders ADS-B IN & OUT as well as Visual Obstacle Detection systems that help the operator to re-plan the UAV navigation according to the surrounding air traffic displayed on Visionair map. To increase the security in flight, it is also possible to define customized areas with automatic actions to prevent the UAV entering the No-Fly Zones.
  • Supported MCC Integration. The rotary wing software allows the connection of VECTOR-MCC or a third-party MCC hardware in order to enhance its I/O and payload control capabilities as well as commanding the autopilot for more advanced mission executions.

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.