Engine Control Units (ECU)

Find Engine Control Units (ECU) and Electronic Control Module manufacturers, for Drones, UAV, UGV, USV and unmanned systems
Overview Engine Control Units (ECU)
By Technology Editor Last updated: October 20th, 2023

Drone ECU

Drone engine control units (ECU), also known as engine control modules (ECM), provide electronic control of a wide range of internal combustion UAV engines, including two- and four-stroke and rotary engines running on petrol, diesel or heavy fuel.

The units ensure that engines run at optimal performance by taking in real-time information about the operating conditions of the engine from sensors that read parameters such as temperature, pressure, altitude, oxygen levels and air flow.

Engine control units ECU

Moscat Ingenieria’s ECU for UAV Engines

Reprogrammable ECU

The ECU contains a microprocessor that processes the inputs from these sensors and compares them to data in lookup tables within the ECU’s memory to determine how much to adjust actuators and valves on the engine. Some ECUs are reprogrammable, allowing users to upload custom performance maps to the memory that account for particular conditions and applications.

A common function of drone ECUs is to control the engine’s fuel injection system in order to provide the correct air-to-fuel ratio. The ECU reads data from oxygen sensors within the engine, and measures the amount of air flowing into the engine as well as the throttle position. It then compares this data to the performance map in its memory and injects the appropriate amount of fuel.

EFI UAV Engine Control System

EFI UAV Engine Control System by RCV Engines

Electronic Control Modules

Electronic Control Modules for UAV also provide other functions such as determining the timing of fuel ignition within the engine cylinders, and the opening of the engine valves.

Some ECUs feature onboard data logging that allows performance data to be collected for analysis and future efficiency improvement. Communications are typically performed via CANbus or serial interface. A number of models allow integration with the drone autopilot, providing greater control of the engine and fuel usage during the various phases of the flight.

Engine Control Modules (ECM)

Orbital UAV’s FlexECU™ Engine Control Module (ECM)