Autopilots for small unmanned aerial vehicles: A survey

Research paper by HaiYang Chao, YongCan Cao, YangQuan Chen

Indexed on: 17 Feb '10Published on: 17 Feb '10Published in: International Journal of Control, Automation and Systems


This paper presents a survey of the autopilot systems for small or micro unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The objective is to provide a summary of the current commercial, open source and research autopilot systems for convenience of potential small UAV users. The UAV flight control basics are introduced first. The radio control system and autopilot control system are then explained from both the hardware and software viewpoints. Several typical off-the-shelf autopilot packages are compared in terms of sensor packages, observation approaches and controller strengths. Afterwards some open source autopilot systems are introduced. Conclusion is made with a summary of the current autopilot market and a remark on the future development.