Reference Design for a UAV Flight Management System

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It integrates a complete system including hardware, software and communication links for Fixed Wing Aircrafts.

the Paparazzi flight planner
the Paparazzi flight planner

Paparazzi UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is an open-source drone hardware and software project primarily working for autopilot systems and ground station software for multi-copters/multi-rotors, fixed-wing, helicopters and hybrid aircraft. This reference design provides all the pre-requisite requirement for hardware used for designing an open-source System for aerial vehicles.

The primary goal of the project is to provide a steady autopilot system to the flyers for stable flying. It utilises a bidirectional data link for telemetry and control between the ground station mission planning and monitoring software.

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The key components for the Paparazzi UAV system are –

The Autopilot System 

The autopilot system has been updated with STMicroelectronics STM32Fxxx series which provide more input and output ports for integrating peripherals and additional modules. Earlier modules used Atmel AVR, Philips and NXP ARM7 LPC21xx microcontrollers.

Sensors

Sensor plays an important part in the working of an autopilot system. The initial position, the target location, the altitude as well as the direction are determined by different sensors integrated with the main microcontroller. The main control board is equipped with a combination of a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3 axis gyroscope and a barometric pressure sensor to provide accurate 3-axis coordinates of the aircraft.
It also contains an onboard Geopositional System (GPS) which helps in navigating the aircraft in autonomous modes. The board is also equipped with a differential pressure sensor(for speed of air calculations ), sonar sensor (additional calculation for altitude), current sensor (energy consumption) and temperature and humidity sensor (meteorological measurements).

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These sensors are used in application-specific tasks such as remote sensing, data acquisition, long-range autonomous flying etc.

Communications 

The UAV control system also includes Telemetry and data links which are used in communication between the aircraft and ground stations. The telemetry part of the link (from aircraft to the ground) is used to obtain status information about the UAV.
A radio control transmitter and receiver pair are used to provide a manual control option for the UAV. The airborne hardware and software support the connection to a standard radio-control receiver. These are the key components which are being used in designing the hardware part of the UAV system.

These three factors constitute in a rugged autopilot system for any UAV or Multirotor systems to achieve the maximum performance and better payload capacity. The design schematics, PCB designs and all hardware specifications regarding the autopilot system can be found here.

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