Feasibility of Releasing a Plane to Fly a Pre-Planned Trajectory Without Ground Control Station Assistance

Hello fellow aviation enthusiasts,

I’m currently working on a plane project involving a Pixhawk flight controller and I’m seeking guidance on how to create an autonomous autopilot code.
Specifically, I want the code to enable my plane to follow a pre-planned route without relying on a ground control station before or during the actual flight.

I understand that the Pixhawk flight controller is a popular and powerful open-source autopilot platform, capable of handling complex autonomous missions. However, I’m unsure about the specific steps involved in programming an autonomous autopilot code for a pre-planned route.

I also understand that modern aircraft, especially those equipped with advanced autopilot systems, are capable of performing autonomous flights. However, I’m curious about the specific requirements and considerations in a scenario where ground control station assistance is not available during the flight.

Long story short, I’m questioning the possibility of releasing a plane to fly a pre-planned trajectory without any assistance from a ground control station. Is it feasible to achieve this by simply switching the plane on and allowing it to follow the predetermined route?
If anyone has experience with this or can provide guidance, I would greatly appreciate it. Here are a few questions to kickstart the discussion:

  1. What programming language(s) are commonly used for developing autonomous autopilot code on a Pixhawk flight controller?
  2. Are there any specific libraries or frameworks that could be helpful in this context?
  3. How can I integrate a pre-planned route into the autopilot code?
  4. Are there any best practices or considerations I should keep in mind when developing an autonomous autopilot system for a Pixhawk?
  5. What factors should be taken into account when attempting to release a plane to fly a predetermined trajectory without ground control station assistance?
  6. Are there any regulatory or legal considerations that need to be addressed in such a scenario?
  7. What role does the onboard autopilot system play in maintaining the aircraft’s stability and navigation during the flight?
  8. Are there any specific technologies or systems that would be essential for a plane to fly autonomously without ground control station assistance?

Additionally, if anyone has any helpful resources like tutorials, documentation, or sample code, please do share them. I’m eager to dive into this exciting project and eager to hear your insights.

Looking forward to engaging in a fruitful discussion!

Best regards,
Alex Harvey

Long story, short answer. You do not need a Ground Control Station to fly an autonomous mission this is basic functionality. Once the Mission is uploaded to the Flight Controller everything can be done from the Transmitter.
Read the Wiki for Plane, start at the beginning.

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Can it happen without a transmitter in use or any connection with the plane?

You’ll need to have a transmitter to initially fly the plane and get it set up. Normally you would fly with either an RC or a GCS, or both. I think it would be possible to fly without both, however the arming stage would be tricky. You would have no idea of the status of the plane until it worked. For what it’s worth you may be better with some kind of radio or GCS to simplify the launch and arming process then they could be taken away (turned off) once the flight is initiated.

I can’t provide any practical guidance because in my country a flight without the ability for some kind of pilot intervention is not permitted. Depending on where you are, you may wish to check the same.

As @Allister suggests it’s possible to do (Auto Arming, auto launch, auto landing all configured) but it would be a very bad idea.