The AtlantikSolar prototype performed its first successful autonomous flight – a waypoint following mission – on May 6th. The autopilot testing and optimization, previously done on a smaller test plane, was started by tuning the pitch and roll angle-hold autopilot on May 5th. Based on this, the altitude control autopilot and finally the waypoint following loops were added on May 6th. Overall control behavior was very satisfactory, although the significant thermals and gusts during the day challenged the altitude controller such that improvements will be implemented in the next test flight. An excerpt from the first autonomous flights can be seen in the video below.
The next steps will be to robustify the inner loops and the altitude controller, in order to prepare the aircraft for much longer flights later this summer!