Birds of a feather: Differentiating drones, UAVs and UASs

According to a MarketWatch report, the Global Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Systems market is expected to reach USD 31.68 billion by 2027, from USD 17.04 billion in 2020. The report also predicted a CAGR of 8.8 percent between 2021-27.

Despite the growing popularity of the technology, visible confusion still persists as to the correct nomenclature and the differences between systems. Drones, UAVs, and UASs are the three most common terms loosely thrown around these days. Most people use these terms interchangeably, which is incorrect and adds to the confusion.

Technically speaking, a drone refers to any vehicle that can travel autonomously with and without human intervention. It is a general term that encompasses all autonomous vehicles that can travel by sea, air, or land. Plainly speaking, anything that is unmanned and has no pilot or driver inside but still functions autonomously or remotely is a drone.

By this definition, every UAV is a drone but not every drone is a UAV. Things get a little more complex when it comes to UAVs and UASs which warrants a closer inspection.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Every UAV is a drone but a clear distinction between the two exists. Hint; the clue is in the name. A UAV refers to any remote or autonomous vehicle that uses the aerial medium to travel. Like drones, UAVs do not have actual pilots inside them and can fly autonomously or be controlled remotely.

The term UAV refers only to the actual vehicle and not the support systems or accessories. This clear-cut distinction separates UAVs and UASs.

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)

UAS or remotely piloted aircraft refers to the whole system, which includes the UAV, its components or accessories, control system, controller, and any other additions that may be added. Equipment like software, GPS, cameras, navigational aids, and specialized gadgets that allow the UAV to function are part of a UAS. This also includes the controller of the platform.

Most manufacturers tend to focus solely on the vehicular portion as they are much easier to mass-produce than a complete system.

Why UAS?

Unmanned Aerial System solutions or remotely piloted aircraft systems are much more technically complex to manufacture and only a handful of companies specialize in them. Such products come with their own software and accessories and can be employed much faster in a specialized role.

Wynyard Group is a company that specializes in Unmanned Aerial System technology. The systems are customizable according to the customer’s exact requirements and delivered on a ready-to-deploy basis.

Once the order is delivered, the operator does not have to install any software or additional hardware to suit their purpose. Wynyard’s Unmanned Aerial System solutions are tailored to match the operator’s needs to the last detail. An additional benefit is that all the systems are fuel-based, which gives them superior endurance and airtime. This also allows for increased payload enhancing capability and versatility.

AeroDreams, Baykar, DJI, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Sky-Watch, and Titan Aerospace are other reputed companies that specialize in Unmanned Aerial System technology.

Normally, UAV operators have to configure their vehicles once delivered. This means additional charges to install the required software for control and navigational purposes, mounting points for specialized hardware, and the equipment themselves. UAS does away with all these extra steps.

The systems come with pre-installed software and equipment customized to perform the task it was assigned in the first place. This makes them a better alternative to UAVs where one has to basically modify them from the ground up.

Unmanned Aerial System technology is being universally adopted across the board today. From emergency services to disaster management to rapid response, Unmanned Aerial System solutions have made a positive impact. The unparalleled advantage it affords first responders and quick response teams is phenomenal. Thanks to their exceptional capabilities, UASs have become an indispensable tool for many organizations around the world.

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