What is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)?

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly referred to as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot, crew, or passengers on board. UAVs are part of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which includes a ground controller and a communications system. UAVs can be either fully or partially autonomous, but more often they are remotely controlled by a human pilot. RAND research has contributed to the public discourse on the use of drones for military and surveillance purposes.

UAV stands for any unmanned aerial vehicle. UAVs are flown remotely without the need for a human to be on board the aircraft. Autonomous drones, however, are a type of UAV, but they are not piloted by a human. Instead, autonomous drones are operated through an autopilot, a computer and a set of sensors on board.

Autonomous drones work without any human intervention, including takeoff, flight and landing. Apart from military applications, UAVs have been used for various civil aviation purposes such as aerial crop surveying, aerobatic aerial imagery in filmmaking, search and rescue operations, inspection of power lines and pipelines, counting wildlife, and delivering medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions. Unmanned aircraft systems consist of the aircraft component, sensor payloads, and a ground control station. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are one of today's major technological advances.

This report examines the logistical and sustainment aspects of an emerging operational concept to employ a family of unmanned aerial vehicles that can be launched, recovered and maintained with minimal dependence on runways. RAND researchers explore current and potential military applications of autonomous systems, with a special focus on unmanned submarine vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles. UAVs are used in numerous real-life applications such as payload delivery, traffic monitoring, moving objects in hazardous environments, and surveillance. The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) emphasizes the importance of other elements beyond the aircraft itself.

UAVs are increasingly being used in many applications due to their rapid and cost-effective deployment. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is defined as a motorized aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be remotely piloted, can be disposable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or non-lethal payload.

Colton Morford
Colton Morford

Avid student. Evil bacon fanatic. Total bacon fan. Passionate internet practitioner. Amateur internet advocate. Proud travel evangelist.

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