How we do pre-flight safety and validity checks prior to beginning autonomous flight:
I must admit I was a little flabbergasted at the realization that most of the 'autonomous' flights reported here are in fact relatively 'blind' - I was really under the impression that the 'check-list' concept that now appears as a forum of bright Ideas was a fundamental implementation in the GCS system and a basic part of all operation - Imagine my surprise when I discover that such pre-flight safety and integrity test are not a prerequisite to launch....
In our SurVoyeur system we have a very extensive pre-flight check procedure - I have attached an excerpt from our user manual which gives some of the basic tests that are performed before the system will allow any launch command.
These tests include:
ALL sensor tests ( Gyros, Accelerometers, pressure sensors, GPS, ultrasound rangefinder for autoland)
All moving surface tests ( flaps, ailerons, rudder/elevator)
Payload ( camera - focus/snap - video camera)
Ground antenna ( tracking antenna positioner, etc)
There is also a pre flight mechanical checklist the user must manually fill in, as well as a post flight checklist, to check for any mechanical damage, servo damage, etc.
A battery checklist has also to be filled in - cell voltage after flight , with a minimum 1 hour ' rest ' period before measuring, ( shows very quickly if a single cell is starting to fail), and the flight time and Ah recharged must be filled in.
Perhaps some of this is onerous for a 'hobby', but it lays solid ground for any authoritative investigation into any flight incident.
We also record the entire flight and ALL A/C attitudes and flight path, all outputs of all PID control loops, battery, throttle settings, etc, all to aid post flight incident analysis.
At least we would be able to stand up against any investigative authority and have a fighting chance...
Here is the doc, for interest - it is just a small extract..
I believe this sort of approach - tailored to suit the end use, of course, should be mandatory, if only to breed good manners and safety within users.