AUTOflyer project information
AUTOflyer is a telemetry system for
modell aircraft and smaller UAV, designed and manufactured by
The system is based on information collected
form sensors in the aircarft that is continuously downloaded to a
receiver on the ground, connected to laptop computer. A special
program receives and unpack the data, store it to hard disk and
at the same time, display it as normal aircraft instrumentation
on the screen. In addition to observing the instruments, you may
also select to plot the aircrafts track continuaously on a zoom-
an panable map. As a third option, any flight parameter may be
viewed on-line on a scrollable trend plot. All recordings can
also be replayed at a later stage for a more detailed analysis
and the system can in this respect be seen as similar to a flight
recorder in commercial aircraft as it enables detailed analysis
of the happenings leading up to a crash.
CORE module. Inertial ref. platform,
GPS-receiver og 2-way radio
Instrumentation in the basic version of AUTOflyer
(the AUTOflyer Start Pack) includes among others a 3-axis rate
gyro and a 3-axis accelerometer (G-force meter). These sensors
will together provide information about the aircraft attitude
with respect to the horizon, the rotation rate around all axes
and the G-forces on the aircraft in all 3 axes. A built-in GPS
receiver provides information about the aircraft altitude and
speed and course over ground. A current and voltage sensor is
also included in the basic version to allow for monitoring of
current consumption and battery voltage and thereby giving an
on-line estimation of remaining battery capacity and remaining
flight time (at the current consumption rate). This can prove
especially valuable for electric propelled models.
433MHz 2-way radio for PC
The basic modell also have 2 servo outputs
controlled by the bank-angle (roll-angle) and elevation
(pitch-angle). These may be connected to servos for stabilizing
the GPS-antenna during large angular manouvers and thus ensure
optimal receiving conditions. As an alternative, these outputs
may, with help of a simple switch, be used to control elevation
rudder an ailerons and thus relieve the pilot from this task.
This may prove especially useful for novice model pilots as they
have less details to focus on in a training situation. This will
again reduce the risk of crashing the aircraft.
The autopilot system can later be extended with
magnetic compass, barometric altitude and airspeed sensor (with
pitot-tube) and engine surveillance. The engine surveillance will
provide on-line monitoring og rpm and engine temperature on
piston engines and electric motors and have serial interface for
the most common jet-engine models. With this option, the pilot
can have full control of the engine state and power output during
flight as well as having all necessary data for making a
off-line analysis of the connection between rpm, speed and climb
later on. Such an analysis option can prove especially helpful in
optimizing engine/propeller combinations.
The engine monitoring can also be combined with
a full servo interface, enabling monitoring of all servo activity
and the possibility to control single servo outputs.
Finally, the system may be equipped with a full
auto-pilot functionality targeted towards professional users. In
this case, all aircraft control will be done from the PC by
setting way points and altitude information for the aircraft. The
aircraft will then navigate to the way points given and stay in
position over the selected point until new way points are
provided. This version may due to security measures not be
available to all users.
Screenshot of PC with tracking map
A limited autopilot-functionality will however be
made available to all users as a pure emergency control in
case of remote control failure or jamming. In this case, the
AUTOflyer system may take control of the aircraft to stabilize it
and then send it on a course back to the starting point. The aircraft
may then be left in a holding pattern around the starting point
until normal communication can be re-established or
alternatively, until an emergency landing may done through the
AUTOflyer system itself.
For scale-model enthusiast and other users with
special interest in computers and programming, the graphic user
interface (GUI) is made configurable. This opens for users
designing their own instruments and scale these instruments in
accordance with the performance of each individual model. These
basic modifications can be made only with a simple text editor
and a standard image processing program.
Pilots experienced in Java programming or pilots with
interest in learning Java may also program their own
graphical instrument interfaces. In this way, data may be
combined in a lot of different combinations giving instrument
functionality exceeding the standard instruments delivered with
the system. This approach is typical for new computerized
instrumentation used in new aircraft where more and more data is
combined into one single instrument.
The number of different instrument types
delivered with the system for personal customization will
increase with time, but there is also opened a user forum where
users can exchange new graphic layouts and new Java instrument
classes and in this way increase the pool of available instruments
and instrument combinations.
For additional information about the
AUTOflyer project, please see the AUTOflyer homepage. Press the
button in the upper right.