An Overview of UAV Hardware Components and Software

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Drones are a complex amalgamation of mechanics, hardware and software. Many drone users are not aware of the inner systems that combine to form a drone. Nor are they aware of the individual workings of the components. Today I will discuss the different drone components and provide an overview of the different components needed to run a drone.

As highly complex technological gadgets, drones have several main components:

Body

The body of a drone comprises of a fuselage, plane wings, tail rotor and canopy, multi-rotor frame and arms.

Power supply with corresponding platform

Smaller drones usually fly on batteries while the larger ones use fuel or even solar power.

Computer operations

Drones’ hardware systems are constantly being specialized, operation numbers increased and accelerated in order to support operating system with no failures.

Sensors

There are three types of sensor: proprioceptive, exteroceptive and exproprioceptive.

Actuators

Installed actuators are determined by the type of drone (several electronic controllers, engines, propellers and other)

Software

Uninterrupted flight is enabled with installed software safely leading the drone on its way and giving the information where to go and when to react.

Loop principles

Open loops for elementary types and closed loops for larger and more sophisticated systems.

Flight controls

They are similar to a regular, aerial vehicle flown by a pilot. However the automatic flight control is much more demanding.

Telecommunications

The connection is quite regular (antenna and analog-digital converter) and enables the transmission of data needed for flight to proceed. Radio signal can be transmitted from a ground control, a remote system as well as another manned aerial vehicle.

UAV software

As drone software is the brain of the drone we have to explain how it works. Drone´s software is designed to tell the drone where to go and what to do while flying from A to B. In order to understand and connect all necessary information of the drone, the software part becomes a very complex system. The software installed in the drone operates in a layer like system. Furthermore, the layers are divided into tiers which perform in various time slots. The layers have to be combined properly to control the flight patterns, altitude and other important information for drone to work and act accurately. This combination of layers is called the flight stack or autopilot. Many surveys and inquiries have been conducted and they all have a very firm indication i.e. it doesn´t matter if the drones have different efficiency or mission complexities, they all need effective operating components. The received information has to be analyzed during the flight. In order to achieve unified component’s communication a generic architecture must be designed and promoted.

While the onboard system itself is not enough, external middleware and operating system are necessary.

Software layers are:

· Firmware

· Middleware

· Operating system.

The requirements of firmware and middleware are time critical. The requirement of the operating system is computer intensive.

Firmware operates from machine code to processor and afterward to memory access.

Middleware conducts flight control, navigation and telecommunication.

Operating system monitors optic flow, avoids interference while SLAM searches for the solution and decides what the action according to received information would be.

Open source stacks will considerably assist in finding solutions for the drone industry, globally speaking. New, improved drone applications will have to be reliable, rapid and flexible in order to meet all new demands and requirements of the future UAV industry.

Listed below are some of civil-use open-source stacks:

· KKMultiCopter

· ArduCopter

· DroneCode

· MultiWii

· BaseFlight

· CleanFlight

· BetaFlight

· RaceFlight

· Paparazzi

· OpenPilot Copter Control

· TauLabs

· CrazyFlie

The following are poplular UAV software serious pilots and UAV service providers should consider using:

Pix4D:

This is professional software used for drone based mapping. This takes pictures taken from drones and converts them into maps and models. It comes in handy in a range of industries ranging from construction and mining to inspection and environmental monitoring, from agriculture and emergency response to aerial photography and real estate. Not only, that, the company of this software has a plethora of knowledge and information from all the mapping done and is ready to provide you with accurate analysis and insights.

3dr:

It is a company which makes it easier for the users and developers to run drones. The great thing is that its source code is open to public. So, developers and drone lovers from all over the globe can tweak its components according to their wishes and designs. It also has an app name 3dr Solo App. Along with a live camera view, it also provides with a detailed satellite overview. It makes it easier to adjust the flight control settings and play with the camera angles. Not only that, it has a quick support service. Just submit a ticket and you will get a response within no time. It is available on the App Store as well Google Play.

Microdrones:

Microdrones has two major pieces of software up its sleeve. The first one is mdCockpit and the second one is called mdFlightSim.

mdCockpit:

It has three major functions. The first is for planning of the flight, the second receives data from the flight and the last one carries out analysis of the flight data.

mdFlightSim:

This serves the purpose of flight training without really flying the drones. It is for those who are new to drone flying and do not want to risk their drones due to their inexperience. The software provides them with real life scenarios although on their computer screen. Once they are sure they can operate it without crashing it down, they can then go in the real world and fly their drones.

The UAV industry is rapidly evolving almost on a daily basis, its expansion can be detected not only in military but also in journalism, delivering packages, helping firefighters, surveillance, filming industry and many more.

According to several global forecasts, even though drones are going to be a big part of our life in the future, the main market for UAV will remain military. So, it is mandatory for the users to have a thorough understanding of the internal workings of the drone. So much so, some universities have even started offering degrees dedicated entirely to drone flying.



Source EzineArticles by Victor Holman

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