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96 D espite the rapid evolution of technologies across the autonomous space over the past 10 years, ECU hardware had until recently remained almost completely unchanged, in stark contrast to other critical onboard computing and control systems. The reason given for this by most suppliers at the time of our previous investigation into ECUs ( UST 28, October/November 2019), was that while there were many ECU functions, inputs, outputs and data tables, the actual processing burden was light relative to the amount of memory that ECU processors carried. Although there has been no fundamental change in that, ECUs are now being designed slightly differently from 5 years ago, primarily for issues relating to supply chains. As global shortages of silicon continue, many ECU ECU developers are getting around supply chain disruptions by redesigning their products and developing new ones for future propulsion systems. Rory Jackson reports Business as usual April/May 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology The advent of hybridised and heavy-fuel powertrains for larger, heavier UAVs are spurring major improvements in how ECUs are programmed (Courtesy of Power4Flight)