Years ago I had the pleasure of being involved with UAV's. I'd say you can
roughly classify them into two groups. Keep in mind, this is rough and very
general, there are exceptions, of course.
The first group could be the "proof of concept" stage. These might be
thought of as sophisticated model airplanes designed and built to test
whatever concept is being studied. For example, there was one that tested
the idea of a flying plank (different from a flying wing) ... the wing/plank
had, if I remember correctly, some 18 servos and a very sophisticated
control system. There was another model I remember that was built to show
the feasability of sending a folded autonomous aircraft to Mars. The plane
would be folded-up in a canister that would pop open on descent. The plane
would then unfold itself and go about it's mission.
These "proof of concept" models can, and usually use, whatever is available
off the shelf, like your IsoPod, RC Servos and the motor controls I was
manufacturing at the time.
The second category of UAV's is more like a real aircraft. They have to
have quantifiable characteristics, reliability and duty cylcle (just to
mention a few criteria). This family can span a wide range, from weather
research planes to target drones and (as we've recently seen) unmanned recon
and attack planes. These can't generally use such things as RC servos
because they are not designed to industrial standards. You have to remember
that, as good as they are, they are designed for toys. Having flown RC
model aircraft most of my life, I can tell you that, as an engineer, I
wouldn't think about using RC servos for anything serious. They simply lack
the robustness, speed, accuracy, protection, monitoring, feedback,
reliability and survivability that you might want (or need) in a real UAV.
Also, remember that most of what I'm calling "real" UAV's are large enough
that RC servos couldn't possibly be attached to their control surfaces.
Back when I did some work on UAV's I saw a distinct transition between the
"proof of concept" stage and the "real" stage. I'd supply a lot of cheap
off-the-shelf motor controls for the first phase and, later, when they built
the real thing, I might be hired to design a much more robust control with
very specific requirements.
I don't know much about you IsoPod, I've never seen or used one, but I would
suspect that it does not have things like multiple redundant processors,
lighning and static damage protection, over/under current/voltage
protection, RFI or EMP protection, etc. I had to deal with some of these
issues back then, the standard of performance when you have a real aircraft
flying over people/property/battlefields is definetly different from that of
$200 model airplanes with $15 RC servos that can crash for no reason (just
saw three crash this weekend within ten feet of takeoff for no apparent
Just to be clear, a ton of research is done every year in aeronautics using
every-day off-the-shelf RC hardware and wonderful products like your IsoPod.
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