Specialist computing platform for leading UAV OEM

Our customer in the Defence & Security industry required a light and small form factor box PC for guidance systems of unmanned vehicles, rugged enough to withstand shock and vibration. As the unmanned vehicles are often battery powered, low power consumption and weight were required to allow a saving in efficiency, ultimately leading to longer service time per mission.

Understanding projects requirements

Units provided by previous suppliers did not withstand the rigorous checks carried out in test environments — data showed that as the battery degraded and the voltage dropped, the PC voltage tolerance wasn’t wide enough to cope. As a result the units experienced unexpected shutdowns, causing data loss of varying degrees, and it was also found that in the event of an ungraceful shutdown, data corruption resulted on several occasions meaning a either loss of communication or the complete failure to restart.

Working with the customers own power consumption reports to better understand their project requirements, Impulse were able to recommend a solution that would alleviate the problems identified in the test environments.

A small form factor box PC, using an ultra-low power dual core x86 CPU which also had a 7-36v input tolerance to manage the voltage drop experienced by the vehicles batteries on longer excursions, was put forward. Additionally, Impulse created a custom embedded O/S which stripped out unnecessary components of the operating system, reducing the overhead on the CPU and ultimately reducing power consumption. Since reducing form factor of the units was also a key requirement, the customer requested that all of the critical I/O be placed on the same side of the box PC.

Moreover, as the vehicles are prone to water exposure and extremely dusty environments, Impulse suggested that a special set of protective rubber caps be placed over the unused I/O, helping to minimise any ingress.


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