Years ago when the first version of unmanned air vehicle – air balloons – were used to carry explosives for the military purpose who would have thought that it will turn into technology which will shake up the whole market and become widely used in the commercial and military market.
“Drone” and “UAV” are the modern names of the first unmanned aerial technology, which undoubtedly have become a part of our daily vocabulary.
But, with the rapid rise in popularity of the unmanned systems industry, these two terms are often misused. It has become a common tendency to use the term “drone” when describing any unpiloted vehicle. As a result, many misunderstandings arise during a conversation held between a customer (potential buyer) and a supplier, as both of them talk about different things, that is to say, speak different languages. Whether you believe in it or not, even terms misuse can negatively affect the overall market.
Thus, let’s make things clear: UAV can be called a drone, but not every drone is UAV.
A drone is defined as any mobile unmanned vehicle, i.e. the vehicle without a pilot on board, pre-programmed to carry out a specific task in the air, on land, or underwater. Despite the fact that originally, the term was used to define a military machine, nowadays, drones become more friendly and available for the general public. So, it is clear that the term “drone” identifies not only the modern recreational quadcopters but also maritime (such as a submarine) or land-based autonomous vehicles, as well as hobby remote-controlled cars. If we consider drone’s application for air missions, the term is mostly used by media to refer to a simple flying vehicle. They are mostly available off-the-shelf.
Whereas “drone” refers to a broad category of vehicles, UAV applies specifically to the flying one.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is defined by ICAO as a pilotless aircraft, which is flown without a pilot-in-command on-board and is either remotely and fully controlled from another place (ground, another aircraft, space) or programmed and fully autonomous. UAV is a more technically accurate description preferred by experts and professionals in comparison to “drone”. It refers to larger unmanned aerial vehicles with autopilots, which have found broader applications in the civilian and defense sector.
The term was adopted by the US Department of Defense to refer to unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), which include ground control stations, data links, and other support equipment.
Basically, the terms are similar, but the use of both terms should be different based on the features of the aerial vehicle as well as a sphere of application.
Another widely used notion is UAS, i.e. Unmanned Aerial System, which is a more complex term than UAV. The word “system” already points out that it is a set of several items, i.e. UAS comprises of unmanned aircraft (UAV) itself, along with the equipment necessary to operate it – ground control station, antenna system, and catapult.
The benefits of using UAVs:
Speed – required information from UAVs can be provided to the client faster by using special cameras and data channel, rather than using traditional surveying methods, which may sometimes be slower.
Cost-effective – data is obtained quicker than conventional methods, so the various types of missions can be completed in shorter amounts of time, thus the cost is lower than using other methods.
Safer – UAV users do not need to actually venture into an area that may be hazardous for a variety of reasons.
High level of accuracy – a UAS can obtain highly detailed data. This is related to the number of overlaps obtained during the flight – the more overlaps, the more detailed the recorded information
No requirement for an onboard qualified pilot as they are unmanned and all systems are developed in such a way that human intervention in work is minimized.
Able to fly and collect information during rain, cloud, fog, and darkness.