Flight dynamics: model aircraft autopilot

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O'Brien, James
Issue Date
BSc in Computer Science
Dublin Business School
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The project proposes to design, using software design methods, a piece of software that given an appropriately designed hardware electronic platform, could conduct and analyse a flight from point A to B (waypoints) resulting in the safe flight, and return of the aircraft. The proposed model aircraft autopilot design requires a basic understanding of aircraft aerodynamics and control. To fly a full-size aircraft via autopilot, we require instruments to display data. The autopilot gets its information for flight from the data collected from these instruments. Model aircraft are generally not fitted with instruments; their flight is maintained by an FM link, flown via attitude interpretation from the ground. To develop the autopilot a series of instruments have to be decided on and installed. Following decisions on instrumentation, feasibility of the autopilot within a systems development lifecycle framework may begin. Delivering a series of dataflow diagrams will result in completion of the reports aims. Examples of possible packages for simulation software are Arena or Witness. Language examples could be implemented through C++, or the aviation Industry's choice of language Fortran. A full software implementation, as would be stored on the custom designed hardware, will not be coded for the purpose of this project. Furthermore, neither will a prototype printed circuit board (PCB) be built due to the costs of the required components.