Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation engineers have developed a Simulink® blockset that enables Embry-Riddle students to develop autonomous flight control systems in Simulink, implement them on a fully programmable Arduino Mega 2560 compatible board, and test them on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The engineers, who are pursuing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle while working full-time at Gulfstream, created the Simulink blocks to enable fellow students to apply guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) theory without getting bogged down in low-level programming and hardware interface details.
Flight control system design, simulation, and implementation are key elements of an aerospace curriculum that integrates MATLAB® and Simulink into undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. “In the Aerospace Engineering Department at Embry-Riddle, many courses are based on MATLAB and Simulink, from undergraduate classes through the master’s degree program,” says Dr. Hever Moncayo, assistant professor at Embry-Riddle. “One advantage of our approach is that students can use experience acquired in previous classes—on flight dynamics and controls, among other topics—to design and implement real systems.”