What is a Drone?

A “drone” or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is one of multiple components in an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). “Drone” according to Webster’s Dictionary is a “pilotless airplane controlled by radio signals”. The term “drone” was adapted during World War II, where UAVs were used as target practice for fighters and anti-aircraft guns. Today the UAV developer and user community does not use the term drone except for vehicles that have limited flexibility for accomplishing advanced missions and fly in an indifferent manner, such as a target drone used for combat training.

What is an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)?

The minimum components required to complete an UAS are:

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
  • Ground Control Station (GCS)Operational Control Center
  • PayloadsUsually the ultimate reason for UAV, determines size of the UAV
  • Data LinksProvides two-way communication on UAV positioning, payload, etc.

When discussing potential risks that an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) poses, range and endurance of the UAV is always a concern.

What Types of Drones are Available?

There are numerous types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) available to the public today. Each category has different positives and negatives regarding limitations on payload, range, and endurance. These categories include:

  • Fixed-Wing
  • Rotorcraft
  • Lighter-than-air
  • Flapping Wing (ornithopter)