A Sophisticated Low Cost Avionics for Expendable Unmanned Aircraft

Period of Performance: 05/07/2003 - 10/31/2004

$703K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

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

Abstract

In phase I a development project that Cloud Cap Technology began in 1999 came to fruition when we demonstrated the successful operation of our Piccolo avionics system for small unmanned aircraft. Our efforts culminated in a multi-day demonstration in Yuma where we successfully completed a series of autonomous flights that conclusively demonstrated the feasibility of our hardware and software architecture for use in small UAVs. In phase II we plan to continue development on the Piccolo system in order to add more capability and flexibility to the system. The development will pursue three main objects: 1) Integration of improved sensor suite including MEMS gyros and 3 axis Magnetometer - This enhancement will facilitate extended operations in GPS denied environments; and improved flight control performance. 2) Development of a Piccolo compatible generator and power conditioning system - This will facilitate extended duration operations and enhance our payload capability. 3) Development of auto land and auto takeoff capabilities - With the additions of the upgraded sensors these important features can now be realized minimizing the need for skilled pilots. Initially the Piccolo II will be used as the primary flight controller on the AINS and SWARM UAV platforms. Target volumes for these vehicles may go as high as 10,000 per year. While the Navy applications are themselves worthy market opportunities we feel there are many other emerging applications where the Piccolo II's small size and reasonable cost will be an enabler. These include civil as well as military reconnaissance, routine and targeted weather observations, and disaster assessment (forest fires, floods, and other inhospitable environments). This feeling is based on the recent success of our Piccolo autopilot platform that has generated over $300,000 in product sales in the latter half of last year. The feedback we've received leads us to believe that a more advanced system such as the Piccolo II will have many takers. Our current Piccolo customers, which include the Navy, Air Force, NASA, AAI, Titan Systems, Advanced Ceramics Research, and many university programs, are interested in similar hardware solutions that leverage off of the existing Piccolo code base and development tools but have increased capability.