If you are considering a hobby as a drone pilot, it will help you to know the definition of drone, UAV, and R/C quadcopter. You will probably already have come across these names and other confusing terms, but you just want to know what is the difference between them, does that difference have any bearing on you, and which is the best option for you?
Let’s take a look at the definition of drone, UAV, and R/C quadcopter and the differences between them. This blog will cover the essential things you need to know when you start out looking for your very first aircraft. Welcome to the world of drone and quadcopter flying!
What Is a Drone?
Put simply, a drone is an unmanned vehicle that is guided autonomously. Whether that vehicle is traveling by land, air, or sea, a drone does not have a pilot (or passengers) on board.
Instead, the pilot directs the vehicle remotely or uses pre-programmed computer software or onboard computers to send it where it needs to go.
What Is a UAV?
A UAV is an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. By its very definition then, a flying drone is also a UAV or an Unmanned Aircraft System (UASes). If you are looking to fly an aircraft autonomously for fun, you are looking for a drone, which is a UAV.
You will, however, probably end up purchasing a quadcopter, which is a type of drone, since they are the most popular with hobbyists. This is because they are easy to fly and a lot of fun!
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the definition of remote control quadcopter.
What Is a Remote Control Quadcopter?
A quadcopter is different than a fixed-wing aircraft, which is an airplane, as it is more like a helicopter but without the tail rotor. It is a type of drone and is always controlled remotely, with the pilot on the ground and in sight of the quadcopter – rather than having a pre-programmed, onboard computer.
A quadcopter has four propellers or rotors and each rotor consists of a motor and a propeller. Quadcopters are very stable in the air and have the ability to hover, like a helicopter, making them ideal for photography and video filming.
The Difference Between Drone and UAV
Now you know the definition of drone, UAV, and quadcopter and it’s nearly time to start searching for your new toy. You may, however, be aware of some of the controversy surrounding the definitions and wonder whether you need to be concerned about the difference?
Remember that, generally speaking, all drones are UAVs. But, are all UAVs drones? There is an ongoing debate surrounding the precise definitions of drone and UAV.
This is because when regulations are put in place, we will all need to know which rules apply to us.
In other words, if you have a remote control model aircraft, does the same law apply to you as someone who has a drone?
Some people feel that for a UAV to qualify as a drone, it should have the ability to adjust its flight pattern autonomously. Perhaps the definition should take into account flying capability or whether the UAV has a return to home feature or the ability to maintain level flight?
This would mean that a basic remote controlled model aircraft would not be classed as a drone.
Some people feel that any kind of unmanned aircraft must be classed as a drone. In other words, a drone and UAV have the same classification whether it is a huge military predator, or a toy you are flying for fun in your own home.
Another argument could be that a drone is a military vehicle used for target practice and UAVs have sophisticated sensors, controls, and autopilots, allowing for surveillance and targeted attacks.
In addition, for many there is a lot of negativity associated with the word ‘drone.’ Here’s why.
Military and Commercial Drones
Originally, drones were associated with the military. When you picture a drone, do you conjure up images of anti-aircraft target practice, weapons, bombs and explosions?
Or, perhaps you are reminded of the paparazzi or journalists who have used drones to impinge on people’s privacy, hovering above the homes of stars to obtain illicit images?
Drones are used by the U.S. military for surveillance and gathering intelligence, and this is also the case outside the military. Civilians use drones for traffic and weather monitoring, search and rescue, firefighting, law enforcement, agriculture, and much more.
Drones are light and maneuverable. As no one is harmed in the event of a crash, they are invaluable for dangerous or difficult to navigate environments.
Plus, when it comes to film-making, sporting events, and photography, drones can achieve vantage points that might be difficult, downright impossible, or too expensive to obtain using other methods.
Choosing a Drone, UAV, or Quadcopter
Now it’s time to start thinking about the right UAV for you.
Your chosen aircraft is likely to include a camera of some sort to make your hobby even more exciting. Cameras on drones can record images to an SD card, which you then remove and download at the end of the flight.
Some drone cameras beam live images straight to your controller, your computer, or a smartphone app.
Newer and more expensive models include built-in computerized GPS navigation systems to enable the craft to return to its launch location, and first person view, enabling the pilot to fly further than they can see. This feature generally adds a range of 20 to 30 miles.
To ensure you choose the right model for you, visit your local hobby store for some expert advice on what is available.
If you are confident about exactly what you want, you can shop online or carry out research in online forums. You will also benefit from joining a local hobbyist group to exchange tips and perhaps arrange to meet up.
Check out our next blog for more hints, tips and advice on choosing and enjoying the right drone for you.