Development of an autopilot system for rapid prototyping of high level control algorithms

This paper describes the development of a system for the rapid prototyping of high level control algorithms using an Arduino based commercial off the shelf autopilot called ArduPilot. It is capable of controlling multiple vehicle types, including fixed, and rotary wing aircraft as well as ground vehicles. The inner loop control is performed by ArduPilot, so the high level control can be rapidly prototyped and tested in Simulink, or an embedded system. The ability to conduct tests in software and hardware in the loop has also be developed, to enable safe testing of algorithms, which will speed up the development process. To show its functionality and ability to assist with the development process of algorithms, ArduPilot is used with a remote controlled aircraft in simulation and in real world testing to verify newly developed high level algorithms for UAVs.