Drone Glossary

1. UAV/Drone

UAV stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which is an alternative name for Drones. According to FAA drone is an aircraft without a pilot on-board, which is auto-controlled or receives signals from a radio control on the ground. Drones are given different names depending upon certain characteristics:

  • Quadcopter: They are most common UAVs and have 4 rotors.
  • Multicopter: A drones with multiple propellers.
  • Hexicopter: They have 6 rotors.
  • Octocopters: They have 8 blades.

2. No Fly Zone

Areas where it is prohibited to fly radio controlled aircraft vehicles as they may interfere with other signals. The highly sensitive areas located near government facilities and airports.

3. FAA Registration

Federal Aviation Administration. A Department of Transport Agency in United States, with the authority to oversee all aspects of American Civil Aviation.

4. Performance

The performance of a drone is measured by following parameters:

  • Flight Time: The duration for which a drone can fly in the air after a single charge, usually measured in minutes.
  • Distance: Miles or meters a drone can cover in a single flight.
  • Altitude: The height above sea level, at which the drone can fly.
  • Speed: Distance a drone can cover in one second.
  • 6-Axis Gyro: Gyro is an electronic device which is used to measure angular velocity of the drone. While 3-axis Gyros were a primitive technology, 6-axis gyros keeps the drone more stable.

5. Built and Design

Following are the parameters to assess how durable and user-friendly a drone is:

  • Material used: The material which is used build the drone’s body, blades and propellers. It can be a magnesium alloy or ABS plastic.
  • Protector Guards: Plastic wings which surround the blades/ propellers. To protect them from damage against collision or free-fall.
  • Ready to Fly: Drones which are pre-assembled by the manufacturer so that they can be used as soon as they are taken out of the box.
  • LED Lights: Light Emitting Diodes. Lights which provide navigation and visibility when the drone is far or it is dark outside.
  • Size: the dimensions and weight of the drone.

6. Camera Specifications

Below are the specifications usually found in a drone camera:

  • Photograph Resolution: the camera resolution at which it can take still pictures, generally available in Mega Pixels or Pixels.
  • Video Resolution: Resolution at which the drone camera can record videos, it is also measured according to the Framerate, i.e., frames per second. For normal videos, it is 30 frames per second and for slow motion videos it is up to 120 frames per second.
  • Camera Gimbal: a camera holder used on drones with which camera’s height, angle and direction can be adjusted. It keeps the camera stable for better photography.
  • Storage: In-built Micro SD cards, serving as memory storage for pictures and videos.
  • USB Port: Port to connect the drone with other devices to transfer images and videos.

7. Battery

Battery is the power source of a drone.

  • LiPo: short for lithium polymer, they are preferred batteries for e-vehicles. The flexible polymer casing protects the drone from short circuits and catching fire but precautions must be taken while charging the drone. Usually, a drone comes with just one set while you can buy more from nearby stores or online easily.
  • mAh: Power of a battery is measured in mAh.
  • Charge Time: Time a battery takes to get fully charged.

8. Radio Controller

A remote control is an important aspect of drone through which it can be controlled from the ground. Here are some aspects of a radio controller you need to understand:

  • Frequency: the radio frequency at which the signals of a control reach the drone. It is mostly 2.4 GHz in recreational photography drones.
  • Design: The radio controller should be ergonomically designed for the ease of control and should be equipped with all the important functional buttons.
  • Throttle: Switch or joystick with which one can control the speed, RPM and direction of a drone.
  • Control range: Distance from which controller’s signals can reach the drone.
  • Display Screen: Controllers sport an LCD or LED display which enables the pilot to locate the drone if it is not visible in the sky anymore. The screen sometimes may also serve as FPV display.
  • Battery: remote controls usually work on AA or AAA batteries which are not included in the shipment of drone.

9. Modes

  • Auto hands free Hover Mode: Allows the drone to hover in the sky at the same point when the throttle is released.
  • Headless Mode: the drone follows the movement of the radar despite of its orientation or head.
  • Custom Flight Route Mode: drone will follow the route drawn manually on the smartphone screen.
  • TapFly Mode: The drone flies in the direction in which the smartphone screen is tapped.
  • Active track mode/ Smart Mode: the drone can be programmed to identify and follow one subject.

10. Safety Features

  • One Button Take Off and Landing: The drone is Ready to fly and will take off at the press of a button. And will start to recede on the ground with one command to land.
  • One key return: no matter where the drone is, it will retract to the radio control in one command.
  • Blade protectors: light weight and flexible structures surrounding the propellers/ blades to protect them against damage from free-fall or collision.
  • Low battery Indicator: Alarms the user when the battery is low and in some cases, the drone returns to the radio controller after battery reduces to a certain level.
  • LED Lights: LED lights help in navigation and direction detection when the drone is far or during darker hours.
  • Sense and Avoid: The drone is equipped with front sensors to sense any obstacle it comes across and warns the pilot to change its direction.

11. Aerial Acrobatics

Drones are known for the ability to perform many aerial acrobatics, of which 360-degree eversion is very popular.

  • 360-Degree Eversion: Enables drone to perform 360-degree rolls and flips which can be sideways, front and back. Continuous flips are great for recording videos.

12. Other Features

Here are some more features you might want to know about:

  • GPS Assist: Global Positioning System is used to locate the drones or make a route for them on the map through a customised smartphone app.
  • App Support: Customised smartphone applications are available for drones by some brands which facilitate better control and manoeuvre.
  • Software Support: some professional quality drones can be programmed, their flight log and be maintained and upgrades can be installed through proper software support.
  • Inertial Navigation System: INS is used to calculate the position of the drone via GPS readings. This is followed by use of speed and motion readings to figure out the location of the drone when GPS Signal is lost.
  • Intelligent Orientation Control: Generally, the forward direction of the quadcopter is the same as its nose, but when you are using IOC, the forward direction of the drone has nothing to do with the nose direction. This is a feature which enables the pilot to take the perfect shot from never-heard-of angles.
  • Wi-Fi FPV: the drone can be connected to the smartphone app to receive the live feed.
  • FPV: First Person View. The live feed can be received on controller display or smartphone via Real Time Transmission.
  • VR Headset Compatibility: Enables you to stream live videos on your Virtual Reality Headset.