Drone & UAV Payloads
Drone payloads are additional sensors, devices or armaments that can be carried by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The payload capacity of a drone depends on its size and its power-to-weight ratio. Higher payload capacities mean greater flexibility in configuring drones for particular missions, and multiple payloads may allow a drone to undertake several functions in the course of a single flight, saving time and costs. Drone operators may often have to consider tradeoffs between payloads and the weight of extra batteries or fuel.
A wide range of payloads may be integrated into drones for applications such as ISR payloads (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), mapping and surveying, inspection, search and rescue, autonomous operation and much more. These can include EO/IR sensors, LiDAR scanners, SAR (synthetic aperture radar), altimeters, transponders, gas and chemical sensors, parachutes, and delivery mechanisms.
UAV payload integration companies provide a range of services that can help drone operators outfit their unmanned aircraft in the most efficient and effective manner. They may select the most suitable payloads for particular applications, and expertly balance these payloads to ensure that they do not impact the flight time, fuel consumption or flight dynamics beyond the acceptable parameters of the mission.
Payload systems integration services may also involve ensuring that the drone autopilot, GCS (ground control station), AHRS (attitude, heading and reference system) or other critical systems can communicate with the payload. Communication may occur through an industry standard protocol such as MAVLink or UAVCan, or a custom protocol may have to be developed. Signals that may have to be checked to ensure compatibility during the course of payload integrations include PWM signals for servos and motors, and video signals for cameras and EO/IR gimbals.
Drone payload integration companies may also develop custom software or drivers to ensure operations between the UAV and device, as well as connectors, wiring harnesses, and internal or external mounting solutions such as rack configurations or hard points. Documentation may be provided that details the specifics of any new solutions that have been created.