The goal of my unmanned systems blogging is two-fold. I want to document my educational journey publicly as constructive criticism from the public can be a valuable tool while learning. I also want to pass on simplified tidbits about unmanned systems to hopefully spark interest from others towards this field, or maybe provide clarification. Questions, comments, concerns - leave a comment!


Quick Look: What is C3?

C3 stands for command, control, and communication. To put it incredibly simply:

  • Command - what is the system supposed to do?
  • Control - how will the system do it?
  • Communication - the interactions between system components; the interactions between the ground control station (GCS) and system
Figure 1. Simplified C3 Diagram (Anderson, 1967).

The command side involves:

  • mission requirements - what does the system need to accomplish, and in what operational domain?
  • command computer - this is usually a group of humans that are deciding what the mission objectives will be per the mission requirements.
  • command parameter program - the output of the command computer; a plan developed by the command computer to accomplish the mission; a coded program that is created to accomplish a task. This program is input for the control computer (covered in the control section).
  • environmental data - collected from the control-side sensors, environmental data is fed back to the command computer. From there, the command computer will decide if adjustments need to be made to the command parameter program.

The control side involves:

  • control computer - receives the commands from the command parameter program, which can be updated at any time by the command computer per environmental data or changes to mission requirements
  • actuators/actuator state/actuator signals - the actuators are the parts of the system that directly interact with the environment such as wheels, moving arms, etc. (output)
  • system position and motion - where are we? where do we need to go?
  • sensors - the sensors collect information about the environment around them and send that information to the command computer (input)

Communication revolves around how the ground control station (GCS) and the system send data back and forth. It can also be argued that communication also includes system component interactions.

There you have it - an incredibly simplified look at unmanned systems C3!
Check the references for suggested readings to further your understanding!

Questions, comments, concerns? Leave a note!


Anderson, V. C. (1967). Command and control of deep submergence vehicles. IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, AES-3(1), 99-106. doi:10.1109/TAES.1967.5408719

Ball, M. (2018). General Dynamics demonstrates Naval unmanned systems C3 capabilities. Retrieved from https://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com/2018/09/general-dynamics-demonstrates-naval-unmanned-systems-c3-capabilities/

Goodman, I. R. (1991). A formal theory of C3 and data fusion [Technical Report]. Naval Ocean Systems Center; San Diego, CA. doi.org/10.2514/5.9781600866296.0097.0115

Jones, C. J. (1993). Toward a science of command, control, and communications. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics: Washington, D.C. doi.org/10.2514/5.9781600866296.0001.0011


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