Interactive Checklists (Proposal)




Every now and then a new blog post or forum thread pops up something along the lines of "Be careful, I got cut by the propeller ..." with ugly images attached.

UAVs are complex solutions and can be dangerous. The technology itself can help prevent accidents but eventually in most cases it boils down to human errors. I have fond memories sitting in a cockpit while going through checklists. We should learn from the real aviation and adopt checklists to make flying UAVs safer. I am always going through my checklist on paper before a flight. This is a proven approach to keep risks low.

In our situation we could take the idea of paper checklists even one step further: interactive checklists. It would be even nicer if the groundstation software would aid the operator going through the checks. The GCS could help by displaying relevant values which need to be checked and allow user input where needed in a structured ways, step by step.

The Image above shows a mockup of a tablet base UI which could be used as checklist in the field. If such a feature would be implemented in DroidPlanner orAndropilot it could also offer GUI components to switch mode or read settings while going through the checks.

Below is my checklist for an electric plane. It might look different depending on vehicle (even for fixed wing planes). I think it would be important to make such checklists configurable. The user should be able to re-order and add/remove items. 

From preparation to launch, during the mission and while landing different checklists are required. The checklists could be organized in tabs.


My checklists:


Preflight check
[  ] Check payload battery
[  ] Check payload on
[ ] Check UAV battery
[ ] Check airspeed sensor clear
[ ] Turn on transmitter
[ ] Mode manual
[ ] Power idle
[ ] check prop clear
[ ] Power up UAV
[ ] block airspeed sensor
[ ] don't move UAV until elevator flicks 3 times
[ ] Connect telemetry
[ ] Check 3D GPS fix
[ ] Check altitude
[ ] Check airspeed
[ ] Check Home Location
[ ] Check cruise speed
[ ] Set home altitude to realtive alt.
[ ] Check moving surfaces [Manual]
[ ] Check moving surfaces [Stabilize]


Mission planning
[  ] Wind direction and speed?
[  ] Auto take off? Angle ___, Altitude ___
[  ] Check default altitude ___
[  ] Check altitude graph
[  ] Check distance
[  ] Upload mission
[  ] Download mission again and check

Take off
[  ] Check prop thrust?
[  ] Wind direction and speed
[  ] Takeoff flight path clear of obstacles?
[  ] Mode auto
[  ] Check elevator (auto takeoff only)
     launch against wind

[  ] Check home altitude
[  ] Check cruise speed
[  ] Check wind direction and speed

[  ] Power idle
[  ] Mode manual
[  ] Disconnect Telemetry
[  ] Power off


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  • It has partially been implemented in DP2. AndroPilot has an undocumented API.
  • Is this proposal still under active development? 


  • Developer

    Anyone that want's to elaborate on the logbook function please drop a comment on:

  • T3

    @Simon, sure! This would then be the "logbook".

  • @Joshua great!

    @Thorsten I think saving the checklists contents shouldn't be too complicated. 

  • @Gary Mortimer what flights standard group are you talking about?

  • T3

    @Simon, for sure we have the telemetry, but the checklist should be documented/saved as well in a separate file. So in case of some problem/crash/accident you can show that you planned everything carefully (The problem however is that it is digital so it can be manipulated afterwards.)

  • Developer

    @Joshua - yay!

  • I made my way over to my github account and reset the password and wiped off the cobwebs :)  After I get finished with this homework I'll be ready to start contributing!! :) 

  • @Gary @Stone1295 I think a logbook function would be very nice. I first wanted to add this to the proposal but then I thought that telemetry logs are much better information that a manually written log. Telemetry logs log all your action, the actions of the uav and all parameters including mission plan. I think what is mission is a piece of software that generates a logbook from these data. No need to do it yourself, or am i missing something ?

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