IQ Communication Protocol: UAVCANv0

One of the communication protocols that IQ offers on its Vertiq 8108 module is UAVCANv0, which is a protocol designed for intra-vehicle communication that is built on top of the widely used CAN bus standard. UAVCANv0 specifies how to transport messages with different purposes and types of payloads between nodes over the bus, say from the flight controller to the motor controller or vice versa. Messages sent over a standard CAN bus are called frames and UAVCANv0 uses a combination of single-frame and multi-frame transfers. It specifies a large set of standard messages that address the needs of many UAV applications, such as sending telemetry or controlling motors. It also specifies a procedure for implementing new custom messages if some special functionality is needed. Other communication protocols, such as PWM or DSHOT, support a limited range of messages compared to UAVCAN.

UAVCAN is an extremely important protocol for drones because the design of the CAN bus is quite resilient to electrical noise. Dropping messages from the flight controller to the motor controllers can have serious consequences for aerial vehicles, so the resilience of the UAVCAN protocol makes vehicles significantly more reliable. Furthermore, since the CAN bus is already widely used in a variety of industrial applications, there is ample hardware and software support.

UAVCANv0 provides an application level standard of communication that makes it easy to integrate with flight controllers. The UAVCANv0 standard is freely available, so anyone can learn about it and implement it without any support from IQ. Many flight controller softwares, like PX4 and Ardupilot already utilize UAVCANv0. So, by implementing UAVCANv0 on the motor controller side, we can integrate with those FCs without any special modifications.

IQ aims at continuously improving our modules. By supporting UAVCANv0, we give our customers an easy way to integrate with their flight controller of choice. We also consistently perform firmware updates to expand the offering of UAVCANv0 messages. If you’re a customer and have a specific request for a message that we don’t currently have, please reach out and we’ll do our best to include it in our next firmware release.