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Introduction to VECTOR-600

1.   The VECTOR-600 is a fully integrated autopilot for use in advanced aerial target and UAV platforms where ultimate performance is required. It is suitable for all types of platform, including fixed and rotary wing UAVs; it is also suitable as the base for a flight control system of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) or conversion of a manned aircraft into a UAV. Other than servos, batteries and an external datalink (radio transceiver), the VECTOR-600 is the only onboard system required to control a UAV and its payload.


Figure 1. VECTOR-600

2.   Military Grade.   The VECTOR-600 was designed in accordance with MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD-461F and passed all the relevant tests in the Spanish INTA aerospace laboratories. See brief explanation here. Full details and test reports are available on request.

3.   Major Components.   The VECTOR-600 is a complete autopilot, meaning that no other flight control computer or sensors are required for it to function as a flight control system. It includes the following main elements which are represented in the block diagram below:

  • Aerospace grade, waterproof, anodized aluminium housing with rugged Micro-D type connectors.

  • Twin redundant Flight Control CPUs.

  • A fully configurable Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which gives complete flexibility in configuring the autopilot for communicating with onboard avionics and peripherals.

  • POLAR Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), including an Air Data System* (ADS) and precision multi-constellation Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). The POLAR provides the heading, attitude and velocity information required by the Flight Control CPU in order to control the UAV in all flight modes and to execute the required flight plan. POLAR is available as a standalone product; for more information, see  POLAR Datasheet.

*NOTE: Further information regarding the airspeed ranges covered please refere to the POLAR datasheet.


Figure 2. VECTOR-600 Architecture

4.   Real Time Operating System (RTOS).   The VECTOR-600 features an RTOS. In simple terms, the key advantage of an RTOS is its predictability and the fact that non-critical functions are never allowed to slow down more important tasks, such as flight control. This leads to a safer, more reliable system. 

5.   Fully Automatic Operation.   The VECTOR-600 is designed for fully automatic operation of the UAV, including auto take-off, flight plan execution and fully auto landing. For a full list of operation modes available, see KB articles Rotary Wing or Fixed Wing Operating Modes. VECTOR-600 can also adapt the aircraft for each stage of flight, e.g. deploying flaps during landing, locking nose wheel steering and deploying a parachute after a controlled deceleration of the engine.

6.   Safety.   In addition to built-in physical redundancy, VECTOR-600 has a variety of safety features:

  • Full range of alarms (see KB article 'Alarms').

  • Protection against radio link loss: VECTOR-600 can be programmed to return to base and land automatically.

  • Survival of sensor failure: VECTOR-600 uses advanced estimation algorithms that greatly enhance navigation accuracy and make the VECTOR-600 capable of surviving several sensor failures, e.g. in case of loss of GPS signal, VECTOR-600 will continue to navigate in inertial mode.

  • VECTOR-600 can be configured to provide redundant servo outputs (e.g. two separate ailerons on each wing).

  • VECTOR-600 ensures that the flight envelope of the UAV is never exceeded (e.g. no more than 2G in a turn). Manual override capability (using an R/C type joystick).

7.   Peripherals. The list of peripherals currently supported by VECTOR-600 is provided in the article 'Supported Peripherals'. Nevertheless, it is possible to make a new peripheral compatible with VECTOR-600:

  • By defining with UAVN team an NRE to develop a driver ad hoc.
  • By requiring to the peripheral's manufacturer to make the product compatible with our system by using the generic packets available in UAVN's ICD.

In both cases please Contact Us.

8.   Installation. For the complete installation procedure of the AP in your platform please refer to the article 'Autopilot Installation'.

9.   Positive Internal Pressure Port (INT).  In addition to the static and dynamic pressure ports for the Air Data System, the VECTOR-600 features a port for internal pressurization. This is used to connect to a positive external air pressure supply in order to enable component protection at very high altitudes, and also greater survivability if submerged in water.

10. For more information regarding the VECTOR-600 please have a look at the articles listed in the KB section: VECTOR.

11. Full instructions for the VECTOR's SW update process are listed in the article 'Visionair - Tools - Maintenance Tool'. In case of failures in the process please contact with our Support Service