Hi Guys,

Could you give me some impressions about the GCS you use? If you can answer these questions for me, it will be very helpful:

- What is your drones’ usage?

- Which GCS do you use and why?

- What are the main features you use?

- What are the best and the worst experience using the Ground Control you had?

Thank you

What is your drones’ usage?

Which GCS do you use and why?

What are the main features you use?

What are the best and the worst experience using the Ground Control you had?

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- What is your drones’ usage?

Some hobby, but mostly professional use. (my actual job)

- Which GCS do you use and why?

APM Planner, because reliability/stability, it's multiplatform and runs on Linux, bonus (security/reliability/confidentiality)

- What are the main features you use?

Planing and mission monitoring, full parameter list for configuration. 

- What are the best and the worst experience using the Ground Control you had?   

Best; I simply require features to work reliably, any GCS use that works, is "as expected".

Earlier, I used Mission Planner, it crashed randomly now-and then, and random features were broken after update, I had a incorrect parameter written (decimal error) due to GUI bug, and the mission took longer than daylight allowed, another time it just crashed every ~3-5 minutes. - always kept 2-3 versions that I knew were good (the features I actually use, worked.)


I build and control planes, rovers, and boats and each vehicle has a unique set of GCS requirements.

Basically our rover and boat gcs requirements are quite a bit different than the airplanes and I have to put up with some gcs features that are airplane specific.

I use PC based MP, and APM Planner 2.0 and Android Tablet base AndroPilot and Tower.

The main features I use are mission planning, parameter adjustment, and tlog/dataflash review.

Every time MP gets updated to correct previous bugs, new bugs are added. APM Planner 2.0 keeps evolving and it has been hard to keep up.



Most users of a GCS use it for configuration of the drone. A smaller number are doing auto missions, but this is mainly being handled by tablet devices. With 'prosumer' mapping using the 'grid mapper' feature in Mission Planner.

The biggest mistake with the current GCS software is that they are monolithic is nature. I think they can be split into three areas, Configuration (which is drone specific), Mission Monitoring and Control (MAVLink makes this more generic for all MAVLink autopilots) Mission Planning.

By splitting these into separate areas, and programs you can address other system requirements, for example 'Mission Monitoring & Control' needs to be very robust. it's Mission Critical. You can create, for example 3D, monitoring views, but due to the complexity, these should not be a mission critical feature. Drone Configuration and Planning can be separate applications that don't have such critical requirements, and not having in the same code base as Mission Control can improve reliability.

A GCS also needs to be cross platform, since even though windows maybe the dominant OS, academic developments are focused on unix based operating systems. ROS is a good example, as windows version is only experimental, its mainly developed for and on unix operating systems. 

We those points in mind, which are more focused on technical requirements, the other point is that neither Mission Planner or APM Planner 2.0 (which is a deliberately a copy of Mission Planner experience) have been created with the involvement of UI/UX persons. This is the weakest point so far in the development, as the UI is created by engineers.

Best Experience with a GCS, getting my drone to fly.

Worst Experience with a GCS, it setting a parameter out of range causing a crash.

I use APM Planner 2.0 & MAVPilot when flying ;-)

Tower on Android, using a wifi link to the drone. Mostly for scanning/mapping. Much easier than desktop GCSs for that, and now it's starting to include some of the video controls of the Solo app, too. 

Mobile apps are the future of GCSs. 

Thank you, Bill. What do you mean by "With 'prosumer' mapping using the 'grid mapper' feature in Mission Planner."? Could you explain better? Other question, in your opinion the three areas should be: configuration, mission monitoring and control and mission planning? Thanks again.

With 'prosumer' mapping using the 'grid mapper' feature in Mission Planner.

Hi Chris! What a pleasure! I agree with you, but what about the drone setup, is it possible on mobile application? Thanks

Thanks Thomas! Why do you use so many GCS? Can you specify what you use from each one?

Thanks! :) What is your professional use?

Aranica provides high resolution maps, topographic data, hyperspectral, multispectral, and thermal images, for industry and research, (like animal detection and counts) oil spill detection and more.  Finally, in spare time, also classic aerial photography.

Could you tell me more about the Planing and mission monitoring? Which kind of information do you need to monitor?

Any autopilot flight needs to be monitored. Especially BLOS/BRLOS (always approved by CAA, and coordinated with TIA/TIZ) needs to be monitored, we must always be able to command the UAV.

(BRLOS is where you use indirect telemetry connection, like satlink)

We use Mission Planner for survey/mapping planning and drone control. Main features used are the survey/grid function, and in flight controls (RTL, Auto, reset mission, change current wp)

Best thing is the massive set of controls, worst thing is the massive set of controls and idiosyncrasies with moving waypoints once they're set, they can be difficult to select and move.

That said, I think we're moving to Tower more and more, just need some more features added to the surveying functionality like automatically setting the dist_trigg parameter for a desired overlap.

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