Drones are a relatively new technology. This was the preserve of the military and a recurring feature in some movies, especially science fiction. However, with continued development, drones are now available commercially.
Drones, quadcopters, and unmanned aircraft, in general, have a very important role in reconnaissance, investigation and surveillance, for both civil and military use. As they become more available, more uses will be found for them. A good example is in power line inspections.
Drones and Quadcopters Glossary
Drone UAV and RPA
As with all new technologies, specialist terminology soon follows. Here are some definitions. The word “drone”, has become the generic term for all “pilot-less” aircraft . This can range from a military drone carrying weapons to a small commercial drone with a camera. They are also UVA (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and RPA (Remotely Piloted Vehicles). Basically, these are all drones. Some of them carry sophisticated on board electronic sensor systems to aid flight stability.
Rotorcraft or Multirotor Aircraft
With many of the smaller drones, the rotary blades act both as a propulsion mechanism and as a wing for the drone. This is quite the same as a helicopter. The rotors on a drone vary from two to eight.
This stands for vertical takeoff and landing. This will apply mainly to the smaller drones and quadcopters. Large military drones take off and land in much the same way as conventional aircraft.
The quadcopter is fast becoming one of the most popular commercial smaller drone formats. With four rotary blades, the quadcopter provides a stable base for an aerial camera. It is easy to fly and control.
Hexacopter and Octocopter
The hexacopter has six rotary blades while the octocopter has eight rotary blades. These will be able to lift heavier loads than the quadcopter; they can also be faster. Having more blades provides an added “fail safe” if one or two rotors were to stop. However, they are larger and more expensive than quadcopters.
This stands for unmanned aerial system. This encompasses the systems required to fly and pilot a drone. This can be anything from a hand held control for a commercial quadcopter to a military drone operated from a central base via a satellite link.
LOS and FPV
LOS means line of sight. This refers to the basic commercial drones and quadcopters that are operated via a handheld control system. The drone has to be kept in line of sight. This is to avoid accidents and losing the drone altogether.
FPV or first version view is a far more sophisticated system. A camera mounted on the drone gives a “real time” view of where the drone is and what it “sees”. Images can be streamed to a computer screen or to a pair of goggles. This way, instant adjustments and changes can be transmitted to the drone. This is pretty much the same as if you are in the “cockpit” flying the drone for real.