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Remote Control Technology

The use of remote control, or radio controlled systems for model aircraft has come a long way. In general, the principle and technology is identical to that of it’s smaller scale brethren. There are many applications where full size aircraft and other vehicles can benefit greatly from the possibility of remote operation. Military and industrial applications permit the large budgets required to operate such devices on full scale vehicles. This has been a growing industrial and military application since the early 1970s, springing partly from remote controlled hobby aircraft technologies.

Today the applications are significantly further reaching – including Smart Bombs (see reference section below), or radio controlled operaton of a broad selection of vehicles. The range extends even to ‘radio controlled animals’ – using nerve or neurological implants actuated by servos or electrical stimulus to have animals perform espionage functions, as they would be unlikely to be suspected. Applications of this have been using birds (pigeons, falcons etc) for video surveillance duties and cats or other household pets for audio and video surveillance.

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radio control guidance diagram -schematic

All radio control / remote control systems share most of these elements in common. Whether a model airplane or a large scale military remote controlled operation, consists of a ground station with manual controls of some kind and a transmitter. The remote vehicle contains a receiver, data processing module and servo actuators for controlling motors and control surfaces.


Data Acquisition Module: Collects data from TAM, IMU, GPS and receiver and formats for processing by CPU.

Receiver: picks up control signals from base station for processing by CPU on vehicle.

Servo: Motor used to effect actuation of control surfaces (i.e. – on an airplane pushes rod to move rudder right or left according to how much voltage is applied to it)

Servo Control Unit: Distributes actuator control signal voltages directly to servos.

TAM (Three Axis Magnetometer): Magnetic compass that uses the earth’s magnetic field for orientation. Necessary for absolute positioning.

IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit): Accelerometer that senses rapid changes in position (acceleration) in three dimensions.

GPS (Global Positioning System): Absolute position reference triangulated by orbiting extraterrestrial satellite stations

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The Chernobyl Disaster’s Remote Controlled Robot

A fairly early industrial prototype used to manipulate pieces of carbon reactor rod that would be instantly lethal to human beings – on the roof of the ill fated nuclear facility. The ability to have a remote controlled machine serving this purpose saved many lives. However – ultimately the radiation levels were so high the heavily shielded robot itself was affected after a few hours and drove itself off the edge of the building in an act of machine protest.

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  VIDEO: Remote Controlled Boeing Passenger Aircraft

A NASA-outfit Boeing passenger airliner retrofitted with full remote controls prove useful in situations where it would otherwise be hazardous to empoly human operators. This particular instance is a crash test to discover the airliner’s vulnerabilities when used for military purposes.

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The Global Hawk: An Overview

A latest generation pilotless remote control-only miltary platform for surveillance and ground attacks. The Global Hawk is manufactured by miltary contractor Nortrhop Grumman. The Global Hawk contains unique signals packages such as SAR (Synthetic Aperture RADAR) featuring unusually high resolution as well a being a platform for advanced ELINT (electronic signals intelligence) and various munitions and electromagnetic weapons.

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Wikidpedia’s Page on Radio and Remote Controlled Technology

Remote Controlled Vehicles for Miltary and Other Applications

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Reference

Remote Controlled Animal Technology for Espionage

Radio Controlled Guided Weapons Technology

Smart Bombs

A Brief History of Precision Guided Weapons


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