Types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Explained

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without any human pilot, crew, or passengers on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which includes the addition of a ground controller and a communications system. UAVs can be operated remotely by a human operator, such as remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), or with varying degrees of autonomy. UAVs can be classified into different types according to their aerodynamic characteristics. The four main types are vertical multi-rotor, fixed-wing, single-rotor, and hybrid vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL).

Single-rotor drones can sometimes cost more than their counterparts due to their single-blade design and gas-powered nature. Additionally, larger rotor blades mean a greater chance of injury by accident. Fixed-wing drones can stay in the air for up to 16 hours of continuous flight but cannot float like drones with helicopter-type rotors do. Many of these drones are based on aircraft designs from the 1950s and 1960s. Smaller drones may be fun for hobbyists and children but are not suitable for military personnel who use drones.

The Black Hornet is an example of a microdrone used by the British Army. These drones are big enough not to be pocket-sized, while being much smaller than those used for general combat and larger tasks. The US military's favorite tactical drone is the Raven, which measures 4.5 feet and weighs 4.2 pounds. On the other hand, larger drones can weigh more than 2200 pounds and stay in the air for 52 straight hours at a cruise height of 35,000 feet. The German military uses another type of drone, the LUNA, which is less expensive than the Heron, but has shorter operational periods.

The Predator and the Reaper are two variants used by the United States that measure 36 feet long and can fire at targets with air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided bombs. These units can operate for 14 hours over a thousand-mile range. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles is increasingly being regulated by civil aviation authorities in different countries. Pre-flight and flight instructions on the use of UAVs for agricultural applications must be followed. Aquatic and maritime unmanned systems have great untapped potential and a multitude of applications, such as unmanned ships, submarines and other systems that can operate above or below water. The Army's Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) classify UAVs according to their weight, maximum altitude and speed.

A similar term is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVS) system, a remotely piloted aerial vehicle (RPAV), or a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS). Post-flight data processing instructions on the use of UAVs for agricultural applications must also be followed. Unmanned ground vehicles have a variety of uses and forms, including autonomous cars, unmanned delivery systems, and terrestrial robots. UAVs equipped with light detection and range (LiDAR) sensors are also used to monitor changes in landscape and terrain in forests. The malicious use of UAVs has led to the development of technologies against unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS).

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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