Hardware In the Loop (HIL) simulation is one of the most useful tools you can find in the early stages of the integration of an autopilot into a platform, especially for the development of the control loops and gains. HIL simulation will allow you to start tuning your gains in a safe environment.
Veronte Autopilot is able to work along with XPlane 11, one of the better-known flight simulators in the market, to make this possible.
UAV model creation
First, you will need to create a model of your platform. Create your model as accurate as possible: dimensions, location of the engines, location of the center of mass, etc. Even though knowing your aerodynamic coefficients will improve your model, they are not needed! Xplane will calculate an approximation for you, using the physical and dimensional information you provided.
HIL with Veronte
Once this is done, you are ready to start your HIL simulation. Plug your Veronte Autopilot to your PC using the USB and enable the communication with XPlane. Once configured, Veronte will receive all the relevant information from the simulator (attitude, location, speed…) and send the corresponding commands to control the actuators, engines and control surfaces in the simulation. Tune all your loops and parameters within the simulation, and get your model to fly meeting your requirements. Veronte autopilot will not be able to tell the difference and will react as if it was a real flight.
Once your simulation model is fully operational, you are ready for the next step. Even though the Xplane model is not exact, the approximation will be good enough for your platform to fly. Some more time fine tuning your control parameters will be all that you need to get your platform ready for operation.
The utilities of HIL simulation do not stop here. Plan full missions, check your stick controls, simulate failures and test that failsafe procedures are correctly implemented…and all of this just with a PC and your Veronte Autopilot. The amount of time and resources that HIL simulation can save will make a really big difference for the development of your platform.