RC? Drone? UAV?

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Aerowerx

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I was just trying to think what the difference is between these.

Except for UAV, the terms are tossed back and forth here on various threads, seemingly without regard to "just what do they mean"

Does "drone" mean multicopter? Or does that include fixed wing, like the Predator Drone?

And there are some that are autonomous. Turn them loose, they fly away, and come back some time later. I would not classify those as "RC".

The military uses the term "UAV". I don't know enough about then to say how many are autonomous, but do know that there are some that are "RC", like from 10,000 miles away. Some come back, and some go "boom" when they reach their destination.
 

Jay Kempf

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Drone is historic, came from targeting drones of old and before that came from bees, little mindless worker drone bees. Those in the UAV world like myself don't like the term drone because it is getting an increasingly negative connotation.

There are a lot of UAV acronym like terms that the military uses which is why I don't like the term UAV either.

RC is a piloted vehicle and not autonomous and as far as the FAA is concerned is flown under I think 55 lbs MTOW, under 400' AGL and under some speed that I can't remember. You can get waivers to build larger model airplanes, that are too heavy and too fast but you can't get out of the 400' rule. No one in RC except a few club stickler types really pays attention to the rules. Most operate way outside controlled airspace away from public scrutiny and operate pretty safely. Back when I was in the RC sailplane business there was always someone finding lift and violating the 400' rule and that was before tiny radio altimeters were invented. Used to fly til you couldn't see anything other than a slight flash of reflection off the wings and then just full elevator or full flaps and crossed controls and watch it come back down.

We are at a crossroads with all this stuff. UAV has become generic like Drone has. The military designators are for the military. If you say drone people visualize quad copter toys. If you say UAV no one in the general public knows that that means so you end up explaining it. But that explanation usually glazes them over.

UAV, UAS, MAV, HALE, MALE, LALE and a host of others are becoming research designators and cross over from university to military. I am sort of curious to see where it all ends up.
 

Topaz

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The difference is very clear: They're all called by different names. ;)

The R/C crowd has used their name since the first radio-controlled model airplanes took flight, decades ago.

The "drone" crowd came up with their own name because they're almost totally disconnected from the R/C crowd, and "drone" has implications of military unmanned aircraft (colloquially called "drones" because "target drone" used to be a thing) and is therefore "cooler."

The military, like NASA, uses "UAV" because they're both obsessed with using acronyms to shorten the over-long-but-pedantically-correct descriptive names they use for everything.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Jay.
 

Himat

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Late reply, Jay and Topaz wrote quicker.
As I see it: Drones are usually bees or ants.;)

It looks like “Drones” is used for anything man made flying, but not manned.

UAV, unmanned aerial vehicle. Not manned flying vehicle. Usually one to be used more than once, as cruise missiles have their own name. But the language gets messed up when some talk about slow flying cruise missiles as “drones”.

UAV can be RC, remote control, or have more or less autonomy. If mostly autonomous I would call term AAV’s, autonomous aerial vehicles. Now, a fire and forget missile is and AAV if it has some sort of guidance, but few call it an AAV anyway.

If the term “drone” include both multicopters and the military Predator? Obviously in the media and to any journalist. But then, journalists seem to me to have a vocabulary size like a barge captain on the river Thames. Something like 400 words. The biggest difference is that the barge captain will use most if you drop something heavy on his feet.
 

Pops

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I use to get my 9' RC sailplane in good lift and have a hard time keeping it in sight. Put some trim chrome Monocote on the top and bottom of the wing tips and each side of the fin to help. Yep, if lost sight overhead, put it in a spin and look for the sun reflecting off the model . Put it up one morning at 10 AM and had to force in down about 3 PM.
Also have flown RC on long trips with the RC model along side me in an pickup truck on the interstate. About 200' off the side and 150 high.
 

Aerowerx

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I see this thread was moved to the Hanger Flying forum.

I thought that was where I had put it to start. Must have accidentally clicked on the wrong button. Maybe I need new glasses?
 

BBerson

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Legally, the FAA calls them all UAS. The commercial are under FAR 107.
The non-commercial were under FAR 101 for a while, but that has been changed several times and is still evolving.
 

TFF

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Technically they are all drones as they are defined now. RC is amateur only. Drone drones with automatic stability like quad, but don’t have to be, are classified separate but somewhat parallel from RC because it can be amateur or professional with varying degree of licensing. UAV was the industry’s name until drone became the Kleenex of unmanned vehicles. Licensing is about to get tighter.
 
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