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Ground Control Station

Ground Control Station/Software for Pixhawk Family of Flight Controllers

In theory, you could use any GCS with any flight stack as long as they speak MAVLink, but GCS's are usually tightly coupled to a specific flight stack catering to specific features or design goals of respective flight stack.


  • QGroundControl QGroundControl
  • Windows/Mac/Linux/Android Phones and Tablets.
  • Mainly designed to work with PX4 Native Stack.
  • Needed for setting up the PX4FLOW OpticalFlow board.
  • Compatibility with APM is being worked on.
  • Basic operability with MAVLink.
  • Written with QT framework.

Mission Planner

  • Mission Planner Mission Planner
  • Created by Michael Oborne for use with APM firmware.
  • Used to be called "APM Mission Planner"
  • Windows only.
  • Most feature rich GCS for use with ArduPilot.

APM Planner 2

  • APM Planner 2 APM Planner 2
  • Cross Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux
  • Mainly for ArduPilot.
  • Based on QGroundControl with the look and feel of Mission Planner.
  • It's called "APM Planner 2" in order to distinguish it from "APM Mission Planner" which was later renamed simply as "Mission Planner".
  • Usually lags behind Mission Planner in terms of feature sets.



  • MAVProxy
  • Cross Platform: Windows/Linux/Mac
  • A command line GCS written in Python.
  • Mainly aimed at developers.
  • Easily extensible by writing modules.

Compatibility Chart

And here are very simple compatibility charts.

Hardware - Flight Stack Compatibility

Hardware PX4 Native Stack APM
Pixhawk & Clones (FMUv1, v2, v4) YES YES
PXF Partial YES
PXFmini Partial YES
ErleBrain 2 Partial YES
SnapDragon Flight YES Partial

Flight Stack - GCS Compatibility

Flight Stack QGroundControl Mission Planner APM Planner 2 MAVProxy Tower
PX4 Native Stack YES Partial Partial Partial Partial

For Developers

If you want more processing power on board (e.g. computer vision, etc.) or if you want ROS on board

  • Go with Linux SBC based boards.
  • OR use one of the Pixhawk clones IN ADDITION to a Linux SBC as a companion computer, connected via MAVLink and MAVROS.

If you want to use ROS on ground PC

  • Use MAVLink and MAVROS