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A Survey of Free Software for the Design, Analysis, Modelling, and Simulation of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle


The objective of this paper is to analyze free software for the design, analysis, modelling, and simulation of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Free software is the best choice when the reduction of production costs is necessary; nevertheless, the quality of free software may vary. This paper probably does not include all of the free software, but tries to describe or mention at least the most interesting programs. The first part of this paper summarizes the essential knowledge about UAVs, including the fundamentals of flight mechanics and aerodynamics, and the structure of a UAV system. The second section generally explains the modelling and simulation of a UAV. In the main section, more than 50 free programs for the design, analysis, modelling, and simulation of a UAV are described. Although the selection of the free software has been focused on small subsonic UAVs, the software can also be used for other categories of aircraft in some cases; e.g. for MAVs and large gliders. The applications with an historical importance are also included. Finally, the results of the analysis are evaluated and discussed—a block diagram of the free software is presented, possible connections between the programs are outlined, and future improvements of the free software are suggested.

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This work was supported by the Internal Grant Agency of Tomas Bata University in Zlín under the projects No. IGA/FAI/2015/001 and IGA/FAI/2014/006.

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Correspondence to Tomáš Vogeltanz.

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This paper is loosely based on [1].

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Vogeltanz, T. A Survey of Free Software for the Design, Analysis, Modelling, and Simulation of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Arch Computat Methods Eng 23, 449–514 (2016).

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  • Global Position System
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Mach Number
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • Configuration File