The diagram above gives a general description of how an AggieAir unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) works. The autopilot is programmed with the flight plan and uses the position and orientation information from the navigation system to control the aircraft and follow that flight plan. The autopilot is able to control the aircraft through the motor(s) and/or control surfaces (elevator, rudder, prop pitch, etc). The autopilot is wirelessly connected to the ground control station so that it can relay the aircraft information (speed, position, orientation, battery capacity, etc) down to the ground control station, and receive high-level commands from the ground station operator. The autopilot is also wirelessly linked to an RC transmitter so that an experienced RC pilot can manually override the autopilot and fly the aircraft from the ground, if necessary. The autopilot is also connected to the sensor payload and relays important information needed by the sensors (e.g. position and orientation). The sensor payload can also use this connection to send information to the autopilot. We are using a custom developed hardware based on Paparazzi and open-source software for the autopilot.
AggieAir has a variety of different aircraft types. All aircraft are fully autonomous and use the same ground station. Click on an image below for more information about each one.