UAS Components: Remote Controller and Command Station

Remote Controller/ Command Station

All drones need a control station where remote pilots can manipulate the controls of the aircraft. Controllers vary in size from handheld to large, ground-based controllers. Drones in the civilian market almost always use small, handheld remote controllers.

There are two different kinds of controllers that we will discuss. The first is known as a ground control station (GCS). GCSs are land- or sea-based control centers that facilitate human control of unmanned aerial vehicles. GCSs can be portable or can be large fixed facilities. These types of control are usually reserved for military drones. The controls will typically be operated by several personnel, each controlling separate aspects of the aircraft’s systems.

For large military drones, there will be separate workstations for different tasks. For example, the pilot-in-command will have their own workstation, and there will be additional workstations for operators of sensing payloads and communications.

The second and most common control stations are small, handheld remote controllers. These remote controllers, like any control station, utilize radio frequencies for communication. The drone and remote communicate with each other through a communication data link. Handheld remote controllers feature flight controls and screens that display critical aircraft information.

Radio frequencies are either line-of-sight (LOS) or beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS). Civilian drones operate on the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz line-of-sight radio frequencies.