The Software Development subsystem’s main responsibilities are the research and development of an autopilot system, as well as the development of a fire recognition system for the solar-powered UAV Phoenix.

Autopilot

As a part of the project’s research on solar powered UAVs, the Avionics sub-system is focusing on the development of an autopilot system. This includes the selection of the right hardware platform and programming it in a way that will fit the mission’s requirements in autonomy and stability. The ArduPilot open source codebase has been selected, as well as the Pixhawk flight controller. Utilizing the tools that are embedded in ArduPilot, Avionics has managed to run simulations using the Software in the Loop (SITL) method, which give us the ability to experiment with various flight parameters, such as wind velocity. Thus we retrieve useful information regarding the aircraft’s behaviour in real conditions. The sub-system also aspires to get involved with path optimization algorithms, in order to minimize the energy used during the flight.

Image Recognition

In the mission’s context, the aircraft must be able to recognise fires and notify the competent authority. For that purpose, apart from the flight controller, there will also be a companion computer, which will run computer vision algorithms, using images from a camera and a thermal camera as input.