UAVs often have limited weight and space available therefore implementing strategies to reduce the number of ‘boxes’ onboard while maintaining their functionality is a definite advantage. One method of achieving this is to replace a number of discrete elements that perform one function (for example a video encoder, ISR recorder, GPS receiver, UAV telemetry) with a single unit. In addition, it is possible that this unit can fulfil the role of a Communications Interface Unit (CIU).

In order for a single unit to replace several others and remain cost effective and flexible, it should be modular with readily available COTS elements that can be used to build a custom system without the costs of a bespoke system. Modularity also reduces the risk of future obsolesce by allowing future expansion and upgrades.

A CIU links a UAV’s computers and sensors to its Air Data Terminal (ADT) to provide a conduit between the ground and the UAV platform and its payload. Technology is available that acts as a logical interface between the ADT and a host of platform and payload electronics e.g. downlinking status and sensor information while uplinking telecommands. Data translation, signal processing and conditioning, encoding and decoding can all be delivered in a single unit. Different payload suites are easily accommodated with adaptable interface options available without the need for development effort.

An example of a UAV CIUCurtiss-Wright can supply single chassis solutions which integrate the functionality of several separate devices into one lightweight, compact unit. Examples of such include a CIU, UAV data acquisition, data multiplexers, GPS receivers, video encoders and data recorders. Thus several boxes can be removed from a UAV; reducing the space, weight and wiring required. This also results in reduced design complexity as well as easing the task of maintaining, testing and debugging the onboard system. Such systems have already been deployed successfully in the field. Some of the features of Curtiss-Wright hardware that make it a top choice for UAV applications are listed below:

Lightweight Remote Nodes

  • Data acquisition: Located close to sensors and linked to central DAU
  • Recorders: Ultra compact for flexible installation and access
  • Reduced design complexity and lower wiring weight

Ethernet Enabled Products

  • Seamless integration to internal and external networks
  • Open stnadards and protocols
  • A flexible future-proof architecture


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