How Do Drones Transmit Data?

Beth Huston Profile image

Written by:

Updated June 27, 2022

The best drones are flown by experienced drone pilots who thoroughly understand their aerial vehicles. This means uncovering the meaning behind terms such as device uplink and ground station, but the best place to begin is to explore how drones transmit data between themselves and their hardware controller. Keep reading to find out how this process works.


  • Almost all drones use the same methodology to transmit data between the controller and the drone model.
  • Understanding how drones transmit data can help you avoid the unfortunate consequences of flying your drone under poor conditions for radio transmission.
  • Advanced models, such as military drones, do not use radio frequencies and instead use satellite communications due to privacy concerns.

How Drones use Radio Waves for CommunicatioN

Understanding the intricacies of a wireless communication device can prove challenging. Because of this, we won’t get into the advanced details of the electromagnetic spectrum or radio frequency identification.

Insider Tip

Learning your remote controller front and back is the best way to become better at flight control.

Instead, we’ll break things down into simple terms that you’ll be able to understand.

If you’re looking for a great drone, looking into our Ryze Tech Tello review is a strong starting point. However, our DJI Spark Remote Controlled drone review is also well-worth reading.

Explaining Radio Frequencies

Advanced drone applications call for different methods of communication. For example, drones used by beginners will have a different set of hardware and software than those used for drone racing. However, most drones use a radio link system to receive directions from your hardware controller.

Learning how to control drones is paramount to their safe operation. Make sure you cover your bases, like understanding the remote controller.

How Drones Accept a Radio Signal

Drones accept a radio signal through a type of antenna. One such type is a directional antenna, which is best used for a drone that requires a powerful radio signal. A directional antenna will allow a drone to have a more extended range, allowing them to fly for a long time in a single direction.


Ensure that you have good radio conditions before flying your drone, or you could have damaged drone hardware.


What frequency do drones use?

Drones mostly use frequencies between 900 Mz and 5.8 GHz. This is different between different models, and each will operate following the drone manufacturer’s specifications.

Do military drones have a different frequency?

Federal agencies will always need autonomous vehicles. The military is no different. Military drones usually communicate by satellite instead of through the same channels as popular drones as a safety precaution.

How far can a drone using a GHz band go?

If you have a drone that operates on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, you can usually expect around a one-mile range. This is a pretty limited range as far as drone operations go.

What is the maximum range for flying a drone?

The mile range for different drones will vary depending on various factors. This can include:

  • Drone motors
  • Drone hardware
  • Radio conditions
  • Power consumption

STAT: The United States drone market increased in 2021 to 1.03 billion U.S. dollars. (source)

Beth Huston Profile image