Flight Control for Target Drones

Since 2004 UAV Navigation has worked with the world's leading aerial target manufacturers. We develop complete flight control solutions for target drones of all types and sizes, including piston-engine and high-speed turbine powered aerial targets. The system includes all the necessary onboard avionics, together with a Ground Control Station which can be easily integrated with range telemetry facilities.

UAV Navigation uses its own advanced Hardware In the Loop (HIL) simulator to minimize risk during the development phase of a project. A virtual model of the client's platform is developed in order to produce software specifically tailored to the aircraft’s flight characteristics.

The autopilot takes care of all the basic tasks of flying the platform safely, including fully auto take-off (catapult launch) and parachute or runway recovery landing, Return-To-Base, multiple waypoints, etc. In addition to these basic functions the autopilot can also interact with a wide variety of payloads, including radar altimeters for advanced functions such as sea-skimming.

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 target drone; no extra sensors or boxes are required other than the servos to move the control surfaces.

The autopilot is also fully autonomous. Unlike other flight control systems which rely on the datalink, the autopilot can execute a complete mission even if the datalink between the Ground Control Station and aircraft fails.

Special Features for Target Drones Platforms:

  • Catapult launch (up to 25G).
  • Compact unit. No external sensors, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) or Mission Management Computer are required - they are already integrated in the same box.
  • MIL-STD. The hardware is certified to MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD 461F.
  • Protection Against Sensor Failure. A high level of safety is provided because the autopilot is designed from the start to be able to survive individual and even multiple sensor failures. The autopilot will continue to function correctly even if GPS is lost.
  • 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.
  • Special manoeuvres such us sea-skimming may be executed.
  • Multi-UAV operation. The Multi-UAV capability allows the system to control multiple UAVs from a single instance of the Ground Control Station (GCS), or multiple GCS exchanging control of the UAV.
  • Precision altitude measurement. By taking advantage of readings from a radar or laser altimeter unit or enhanced GNSS solutions (RTK, DGNSS), the autopilot is able to maintain accurate height above surface level, which is critical for low altitude operations such as sea-skimming at high speed.
  • Parachute recovery.
  • Flares and pyrotechnics control using the TGTIO02 Peripheral Control Board.
  • 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.
  • 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. It also allows the aircraft to have a broad flight envelope and operate in multiple configurations during a single flight.
  • 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.
  • Stall protection. The system 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.
  • High precision take off and landing in adverse conditions.
  • Automation. Varying grades of automation of the control mechanism are possible (full 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.
Built in capability to add third party telemetry to the autopilot's data stream.
 
  • For a more detailed description of the UAV Navigation FCS