Posted by   | 15/03/2019 | 0 Comments

Today Kirill Shilov, CEO Sky-Drones would like to speak about the integration. You have probably noticed that the drones are becoming smarter and smarter over the years. A few years ago drones were primarily controlled by the autopilot based on microcontroller, pretty much STM32 or similar ones. It's perfectly fine for stabilization and navigation of the vehicle and it allows to fly fully autonomous missions by GPS. But drone technology is driven by market which expects the contribution to more and more complex scenarios. Just to name a few - navigation in GPS denied environments featuring onboard computer vision, payload data processing onboard, permanent connectiviy to the cloud via 4G networks or to the ground control station via broadband digital datalink which in its turn connected to the cloud again. And of course UTM - Unammed Traffic management should be run not only on the operator tablet on the ground but onboard as well. Therefore - the disadvantage of microcontrollers in this context is the lack of computational resources and commnunication interfaces.

Another thing to mention is the software - it's too time consuming to implement the features I previously mentioned for real-time operating systems like FreeRTOS, ChibiOS, NuttX. It's much easier and relevant to do this in Embedded Linux environment. And here single board computers and system on chip modules are coming! They are perfect for the applications discussed above. At the moment and a bit further over time such systems will be an addition to the existing microcontroller based autopilots, they're called companion computers. While autopilot is still responsible for low-level tasks like maintainting the flight - companion computer is responsible for the actual mission aspects. However, aerial systems are quite restricted in terms of size and weight for the components inside. Therefore, it makes sense to have only one system onboard which is responsible for everything. So eventually, we'll see the autopilot (by its current definition) being just a part of a compact but very powerful onboard computer.

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