What is a Drone and Are there Different Types of Drones?

What is a drone?

Despite immense growth in popularity, many still find themselves asking the question,”What is a drone?”

A drone is simply an unmanned vehicle. The term “drone” however encompasses several vehicle types. To name a few :

  • UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)
  • UAS (unmanned aerial system)
  • AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle)
  • UGV (unmanned ground vehicle)

Don’t worry; we won’t overwhelm you with every vehicle type and acronym right now!

What is a Drone and Are there Different Types of Drones?

What is a Drone : Wikipedia’s Definition

While it isn’t the most infallible source of information, Wikipedia is arguably one of the most trusted sites available. So, how does Wikipedia define drones?

“An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or by several other names, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard.”

What is a Drone : Our Definition :

A drone is any pilotless vehicle, remotely operable or autonomous, that is capable of various tasks from simple travel to complex programmable missions.

Why Drone “Travel?”

You may be wondering why we specify drone “travel” instead of the overused term “flight”. Well, drones are capable of aquatic, aerial, or terrain deployments, and while UAVs are the most popular form of drones today, AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) and UGVs (unmanned ground vehicle) are just as indispensable to the developing drone community.

What is an UAV?

An UAV is an unmanned aerial vehicle, or simply put, it’s an unmanned vehicle capable of remote operation or autonomous flight. However, truly understanding what an UAV is encompasses far more than a summarized Wikipedia definition. In fact, we can learn so much more about UAVs by what they can accomplish, because take it from us, they can do far more than just fly.

Hobbyists are mostly attracted to drones for backyard barbecues boasting or, on a more serious note, amateur photography or videography. But, drones are meant for so much more.

Whether you’ve purchased a drone or you’re customizing your very own drone build, we can delve a little deeper into the knowledge of drones when we take a glance at commercial drone applications. To list just a few :

  • Professional photography / videography
  • Building and structural inspections
  • Land surveys
  • Real estate sales
  • Agricultural advancements and automation
  • Forestry management and monitoring
  • Emergency Services
  • Law Enforcement
  • Military Operations

Now, commercial drone applications are advancing at a rate we can’t even keep up with, but the aforementioned is a great glimpse into what drones can accomplish.

What is a AUV?

Unlike an UAV, an AUV, autonomous underwater vehicle, is an aquatic drone – same concept, different terrain. While the commercial application list for UAVs is far smaller than that of their more popular, aerial counterparts, they’re aquatic usage is growing in surveillance and scientific research, collecting information that is often more costly and difficult for humans to obtain.

What is a UGV?

Yep, you guessed it. An UGV is an unmanned ground vehicle, and almost entirely identical to UAVs, it shares most of the same commercial drone applications such as inspection services, land surveying, agricultural automation, security and more.

Drone Acronyms and Meanings

Are all of these drone acronyms rattling your brain? Check out our complete drone glossary to learn more about different types of drones and common drone terms.