Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems

, Volume 56, Issue 1–2, pp 199–232 | Cite as

Net-Centric Communication and Control for a Heterogeneous Unmanned Aircraft System

  • Jack Elston
  • Eric W. Frew
  • Dale Lawrence
  • Peter Gray
  • Brian Argrow


This paper presents a net-centric communication, command, and control architecture for a heterogeneous unmanned aircraft system comprised of small and miniature unmanned aircraft. An integrated system was developed using a bottom-up design approach to reflect and enhance the interplay between networked communication and autonomous aircraft coordination. The advantages of the approach are demonstrated through a description of the unmanned system that resulted from using this design process. First, the hardware system is described, including both small and miniature unmanned aircraft along with their respective avionics systems. Second, a network architecture is described that seamlessly combines the miniature aircraft’s IEEE 802.15.4 components with IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) components on the small aircraft. Integration of intravehicle communication and service discovery is also described. Third, a hierarchical control architecture is presented that uses the network architecture to coordinate the small and miniature aircraft at several layers in the control hierarchy. Hardware in the loop demonstrations are performed to validate the capabilities of the heterogeneous unmanned aircraft system.


Unmannned aircraft system UAS Communication and control Cooperative control Heterogeneous unmanned aircraft system 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack Elston
    • 1
  • Eric W. Frew
    • 1
  • Dale Lawrence
    • 1
  • Peter Gray
    • 1
  • Brian Argrow
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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