A Sophisticated Low Cost Avionics for Expendable Unmanned Aircraft

Period of Performance: 02/01/2002 - 08/01/2002


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Cloud CAP Technology
PO Box 1500 8 Fourth Street
Hood River, OR 97031
Principal Investigator


For years Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have failed to deliver on their promise to revolutionize the remote-sensing industry. Their potential for small size and low cost has been offset by the lack of sufficient avionics hardware and software integration resulting in expensive vehicles that are difficult to maintain, and suffer from high rates of attrition. The recent introduction of the Motorola MPC555 automotive processor, with its integrated memory and extensive onboard peripherals, coupled with the latest GPS technology provides the opportunity to finally realize powerful yet inexpensive UAV avionics systems in very small footprints. Cloud Cap Technology has capitalized on these advances with the development of Piccolo, a full-featured yet affordable end user programmable avionics development platform. The next step, the PiccoloLT, is a low cost derivative that trades hardware flexibility and expandability for further reductions in size and cost. PiccoloLT will provide UAV developers with a highly integrated development platform that is small, reliable and inexpensive enough to use on an expendable airplane. Phase I and II development will result in an extremely inexpensive avionics system which is software compatible with our more sophisticated Piccolo system. The primary market niche for PiccoloLT is developers of expendable small unmanned aircraft; in particular the Navy to whom we hope to sell thousands of systems. However PiccoloLT also has application in other markets: 1) Research institutions that need a low cost yet flexible platform for developing research vehicles. Cloud Cap has been in contact with engineers from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center who have a need for low power avionics for small lightweight research UAVs. Their primary requirements are: low cost, high-speed performance, and rapid development tools. 2) Universities with aeronautical and astronautical programs which need development tools and implementation platforms for graduate and senior design courses: The Aeronautics and Astronautics department of the University of Washington has invested a large part of its capstone senior design course in unmanned aircraft development. Their primary requirement is a low cost, flexible avionics solution that can be used by students to develop unmanned aircraft technologies.