Lab builds autopilot software allowing UAVs to soar on thermals  May 10, 209 Prior systems relied on batch estimation processes that require storing large arrays of data, which is not ideal for operation on small microcontrollers with limited memory resources. Researchers at Naval Research Laboratory working on the Autonomous Locator of Thermals (ALOFT) project have developed software that uses extended Kalman filtering software which detects and estimates the position of thermals helping orbit drones like the tiny CICADA glider or long-endurance solar-soaring UAVs that might also have photovoltaic or fuel cells feeding battery-powered propellers. UAVs don’t need large batteries because they harvest energy from the environment using intelligent software […]