UAV development process resembles the Airplane development history in a way. At the beginning of airplane development there have been very innovative airfoils with very interesting shapes. When time passed, the airfoils became more and more pre-defined. All passenger aircrafts have almost the same size, wing shape etc. There are only minor differences that reflect the producers choice for trade offs.
The UAV Airfoils are expected to merge and evolve into a number of standard types in the near future. The number of these types will be defined by the size and application specific needs. The Autopilot to UAV Integration business will be over in 5 years.
But development in Payloads does not seem to have an end. The more the capability of electronics increase the better and newer applications arise. We expect the payloads of the future will be, more and more interacting with the UAV’s they are carried with and will demand extra features from the Autopilots. Since pilots flying the aircrafts are becoming airplane operators, we may assume that Autopilots will have to do more then just flying as well. For example, for an IR sensor, it is not going to be sufficient to just get the video, maybe the method of acquiring it is also going to be change. An application will require to get the images from a specific distance and/or angle, repeat the procedure until the payload approves the result, change flight parameters according to feedback from a payload etc.
For all this to happen, payloads will need to communicate with the Autopilot and in some cases operated by them. This again means Integration of payloads to Autopilots. A-techSYN will be producing these services as well.