Standard Article

Embedded UAS Autopilot and Sensor Systems

System Engineering

Avionics System Integration

  1. Randal W. Beard

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470686652.eae452

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

How to Cite

Beard, R. W. 2010. Embedded UAS Autopilot and Sensor Systems. Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. .

Author Information

  1. Brigham Young University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Provo, Utah

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The objective of this chapter is to give an overview of autopilot software design for small and miniature unmanned air systems. An architecture that is typical of commercially available autopilots is described. A detailed explanation of the inner-loop control structure is described, including the lateral directional feedback loops and the longitudinal directional feedback loops. We give a brief description of the sensor package that is usually on small UAS, and describe simple filtering schemes for extracting estimates of the states needed by the autopilot. Finally, we briefly describe GPS navigation for following straight lines and orbits.


  • autopilot design;
  • small unmanned air vehicles;
  • sensors on small UAVs;
  • Kalman filtering;
  • GPS guidance