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Senior Project - skynet


Software for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Senior Project: 2002-2003
Jeffrey Braucher, Daniel Faber, Samuel Neff, Stephen Smith and Steven Williams
Wheat Ridge, CO

Vesta Technology, located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, is a developer of single board computers. Their target customers are original equipment manufacturers who need embedded systems to control their products. They aim to make embedded systems simple for customers to use as components in their own systems. One of their current designs is an onboard autopilot system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) called the AP50. The AP50 autopilot is a low-cost flight control system incorporating navigation and stability control for the UAV.

Vesta Technology was interested in developing a user-friendly application to interface with the AP50 autopilot, which in turn would control a UAV. In the existing system, commands must be programmed while the UAV is on the ground, or by a traditional radio controlled controller.

The goal of this project was to develop an application that will remotely communicate and control an autopilot over an RF link. This application greatly simplifies the task of flying a UAV. The AP50 itself can be mounted on many different UAVs and handles all of the in-flight systems, keeping the craft airborne. A Windows GUI was developed to control the autopilot from a laptop computer. It consists of a map, instrument panel, and control panel. The plane can be flown manually via direct manipulation of altitude, speed, and heading, or it can be flown on autopilot by setting waypoints on a map or by setting coordinates prior to flight. Data gathered in flight can be saved and later analyzed. The system was developed in Visual C++.

Control Panel
Control Panel
Flight Status
Flight Status
Latitude/Longitude Plot
Latitude/Longitude Plot
See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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