Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones need some kind of autopilot system regardless of how big or small they are. The autopilot handles such tasks as establishing communication with a ground station and controller, allowing stable flight or hovering states to be maintained, and handling specific maneuvers when required.The smaller such craft are, the more premium space becomes. Until now the smallest autopilot system available to use weighed at least 32 grams, but the MAV lab at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands went back to the drawing board to redesign the system. What they cam up with is the world’s smallest and lightest autopilot system for use in micro aircraft.The 32 gram+ weight of the previous smallest autopilot has been cut to just 1.9 grams, and it measures just 2 x 2 cm in size. When you’re talking about a craft that is small enough to sit in your hand, you can see why such a reduction is size and weight could have a massive impact on performance and use cases. Micro air vehicles (MAV) as they are known, will be able to fly for much longer periods of time using the same battery, can be made smaller to travel into more confined areas, or even carry larger payloads.The video below shows both a quadcopter and a helicopter drone using the new autopilot system.The research team at MAV lab, headed up by researcher Bart Remes, has named the autopilot system Lisa/s and decided to make it open source. By doing so it is hoped other people will get involved to improve it and make it more accessible to anyone working with MAVs.The large reduction in size and weight for the autopilot was achieved in part by combining the functionality of maintaining a link to a ground station and a remote control transmitter. But there’s still functionality to add including environment sensing and route planning. Once incorporated, the tiny autopilot system can be used to make an MAV completely autonomous while able to fit in a pocket. That should make them an invaluable edition to any search and rescue (or spying) operation.