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UAV Navigation puts Vector-600 autopilot through paces

The Vector-600 autopilot. (Photo: UAV Navigation)

The Vector-600 autopilot. (Photo: UAV Navigation)

UAV Navigation has confirmed the safety and reliability of its Vector-600 autopilot for civil applications with an independent study. The study was performed as part of the European Union VaNeT project, and conducted by third-party company Anzen Engineering.

An autopilot system in an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)  is the heart of the flight control system. For the Vector-600, the study included a reliability prediction report (RPR), failure mode effects and criticality analysis (FMECA) and fault tree analysis (FTA).

Reliability Prediction Report. The RPR analyzes probability of failure of every single sensor and component inside a system. It helps define component failure rates and, consequently, a prediction of the time that the VECTOR-600 is expected to operate free of failures under given operating conditions. According to this, the VECTOR-600 has shown a mean time between failures of more than 19,500 hours.

Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis. A FMECA study identifies potential failures of system functions and assesses their effects, so that mitigation actions can be defined. It is a bottom-up analysis considering each single elementary failure mode and assessing its effects.

Fault Tree Analysis. Fault trees are a classic deductive analysis technique useful for both qualitative and quantitative analysis. For the Vector-600, a quantitative FTA provided probability estimates for major hazards, as well as identifying single-point failure modes and guiding further design for hazard reduction. According to the results, Vector-600 showed a probability of loss of mission per flight hour of 1,809E-05 under its operating conditions.

“The FMECA, RPR, and FTA analysis performed by the external and independent company Anzen have proven that our most advanced autopilot, Vector-600, is one of the most reliable GNC [guidance, navigation and control] systems for NATO Class I and II unmanned aircrafts available in the market and enables our clients to execute missions ensuring safety,” UAV Navigation stated in a press release.

The EU regulation framework defines three classes of operations: open, specific and certified. In specific and certified category operations, including most professional UAS flights, operators and aircraft manufacturers need to prove safe operation of their platforms. For this reason, the study of the reliability of the systems involved in the UAV becomes a must to demonstrate the system can operate free of failures under specific operational conditions.

The full analysis report is available on request.

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