Frequently Asked Questions
wePilot Flight Control Systems
Q: What is the preflight procedure?
We provide the required checklists and pre-flight checks for the FCS and GCS in checklist form. The software (onboard firmware and GCS) perform their own internal sensor diagnostics/EKF convergence that provides another level of safety.
Q: Is there a training module or simulator?
Yes. We have a hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) simulator that is standard with all systems.
Q: How long does training on the FCS take?
The training depends on prior experience and comfort level. We will tailor the training to you . Typically this training lasts between 2 and 7 days.
Q: Can you redirect the autopilot while in flight?
a. Yes, you may choose to hover (or orbit in the fixed wing FCS), you may select any waypoint in an existing flight plan to go to, you may stop the mission, you may plan other missions while in flight, you may load a different flight plan while in flight, you may alternate between preprogrammed missions and pilot directed flight through the joystick, and back to your mission, etc. This functionality has been integral to the standard system since ~2005.
Q: Can I switch from manual flight to autonomous flight(waypoint navigation) with the wePilot Flight Control System (FCS)?
Yes, this is always available with all of the wePilot flight control systems.
Q: What type of controller is the wePilot based on?
The wePilot FCS uses H_infinity flight control scheme. The H_infinity control scheme is in the Robust class of controllers. For more information regarding robust control see our tutorial here.
Q: Does the wePilot georeference the pictures taken when I use the camera trigger?
Yes. When the camera is triggered the wePilot stores the aircraft position and attitude information for post processing.
Q: What sort of support do you provide?
We provide in-person, telephone, and email support for the wePilot FCS products. In many cases we can provide firmware upgrades via email for you to load onto your helicopter.
Q: Are there any plugins for the autopilot?
Yes, there are a few already tested add-ons such as automatic camera triggering for geo-referenced mapping, Copter on a stick (for convoy tracking), automatic autorotation, collective limiting (to save sagging engine) and others.
Q: Can we upgrade the ground control station or use our own?
Yes. The datalink protocol is fully documented and has been used at Viking to interface with STANAG4586 compliant groundstations on 2 separate helicopter programs in the past.
Q: What are the failsafe features of the autopilot?
Helicopter FCS: Upon loss of communication for a specified amount of time the helicopter will automatically return to the home waypoint and perform an automatic landing.
Fixed Wing FCS: Upon loss of communication for a specified amount of time the aircraft will return to the home waypoint and loiter in a circle.
Q: Is there any redundancy in the system?
All of our systems have the option for a backup RC (Direct Manual) control. Our flight control systems have backup attitude controllers that are used in the event of lost GPS. Redundant autopilot systems (master/slave concept) have been integrated on one program successfully. The UHF datalink communication loss is not flight critical.
Q: Can we integrate satellite communications with your system
Yes. We have a standard communciations protocol and can interface to any serial-based transceiver. We have implemented Iridium communications with the wePilot in the past
Wolverine III Unmanned System
Q: Can the Wolverine III be used for aerial mapping?
Yes. The wePilot FCS has the ability to automatically trigger a camera based on waypoint information. The camera trigger works in three modes: You can trigger the camera manually, you can specify waypoints at which to trigger the camera, or you can configure the system with your desired image overlap and the system will automatically trigger the camera to achieve this overlap. This method is most useful for aerial mapping as it ensures full coverage.
Q: What do UA, UAV and UAS stand for and what is the difference?
UAV stands for Unmanned Air Vehicle and UAS stands for Unmanned Aircraft System. The distinction was made in the DoD UAS Roadmap. The most current UAS Roadmap can be seen here. Essentially, the term UAS has been adopted in place of UAV to indicate that these are systems and not just vehicles. The vehicle is merely a part of the entire system. The terms UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) and UA (Unmanned Aircraft) are both commonly used to refer to the vehicle component of the system, though UA is the term officially adopted by the DoD. We at Viking Aerospace use UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) to refer to the vehicle and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) to refer to the entire system (UAV, communications, payload, ground control station, support equipment, etc.)