Drone terms

Drone – Main terms explained


There are many technical terms used within the drone industry as a result of its rapid spread. In this article, we will list and explain these terms.

2.4 GhzThe frequency used by digital (spread spectrum) radio communications in our applications, including 2.4Ghz RC, Bluetooth and some video transmission equipment. This is a different band than the older 72 Mhz band that is used for analog RC communications. To avoid radio frequency conflict is it often a good idea to use 72 Mhz radio equipment when you are using 2.4 Ghz onboard video transmitters, or use 900 Mhz video when using 2.4 Ghz RC equipment.
5.8 GHzHence 5.8HGz is the preferred frequency of professionals because it operates in a high range and bandwidth. It will also contain low disturbance compared to 2.4 GHz.
Above Mean Sea LevelAn elevation (on the ground) or altitude (in the air) of an object, relative to the average sea level datum.
AccelerometerA device that measures the acceleration forces in a certain direction and helpful in maintaining the Drones orientation. These devices are used to stabilize quadcoptors.
Acro ModeAlso known as manual mode and rate mode. Arco mode doesn’t automatically level the aircraft. This means that the pilot will have to constantly make adjustments to keep from losing control of the drone.
Aerial PhotographyCapturing images and video while in the air with a camera mounted to your drone.
AerodromeA small airport or airfield.
Aerodrome Traffic ZoneProvides information to protect the air traffic around an airport. It is accessible to local traffic.
AircraftA device used for flight in the air.
Air FrameThe air frame (or simply frame) is the body of your drone. Think of it as your drone’s skeleton. It’s where all your FPV system components (camera, props, motors, boards, etc.) are housed.
Altitude Heading Reference SystemAn IMU (see below) plus the code to interpret the output from its sensors to establish a plane’s XYZ and heading orientation.
Altitude Hold (ALT Hold)In this flight mode, the drone maintains a consistent altitude through its onboard barometric pressure sensor. However, the pilot can still control the roll, pitch, and yaw in this setting.
A Mode or Atti Mode The A Mode or Atti Mode is short for Attitude Mode, where the drone will maintain a certain altitude but not position. This allows the drone to remain at the same height but drift around.
Academy of Model AeronauticsThe main US model aircraft association. The AMA works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish reasonable rules for the use of amateur UAVs. Each AMA chapter and field may have slightly different policies, but it’s possible to fly and test air frames and some technology on AMA fields without violating the association’s (or FAA/NAS) rules.
ArduinoAn open source embedded processor project. Includes a hardware standard currently based on the Atmel Atmega168 microprocessor and necessary supporting hardware, and a software-programming environment based on the C-like Processing language.
Area of Intense Aerial ActivityAn airspace within which aircraft, singly or in combination with others, regularly participate in.
Aeronautical Information CircularContains explanatory or advisory information concerning technical, legislative or administrative matters.
Aeronautical Information PublicationDefined by the International Civil Aviation Organization as a publication issued by or with the authority of a state and containing aeronautical information of a lasting character essential to air navigation.
Aeronautical Information ServiceA service established in support of international civil aviation
Aerodrome Traffic ZoneAn airspace of defined dimensions established around an aerodrome for the protection of aerodrome traffic.
AIRPROXA near collision between two aircraft.
Air Traffic ControlThe ground-based personnel and equipment concerned with monitoring and controlling air traffic with a specific area.
Air Traffic ServiceFor example weather information en route.
Almost-Ready-To-FlyDrones that require some minor assembly and additional equipment. Examples: receiver (Rx) and radio transmitter (Tx). A radio transmitter is also known as a radio controller.
Angle of AttackThe angle between the chord of an airfoil and the direction of the surrounding undisturbed flow of gas or liquid.
Application Specific Sensor NodeIntegrating sensors and sensor fusion in a single device.
ArdupilotOpen source system which allows fully autonomous flight and navigation.
Attitude ModeWhere the drone will maintain a specific altitude but not position.
Auto LevelingA flight mode that allows the drone to perform even flight. This is typically an automatic feature that is engaged through a setting on the drone.
Automatic flightA flight that is pre-programmed, so that the aircraft flies a route itself, whereby the pilot does not have to control the aircraft, but can intervene immediately if necessary.
Autonomous AircraftThe International Civil Aviation Organization classifies autonomous aircraft as, “unmanned aircraft that does not allow pilot intervention in the management of the flight.”
Autonomous FlightThere are some SUAVs’s that are managed by internal programming that have instructions on where to fly as guided by an onboard GPS system. This is in opposition to steering mechanisms that are operated by radio control from the ground.
AutopilotShort for automatic pilot. A capability of a drone to conduct a flight without real-time human control. For example, following pre-set GPS coordinates.
All Up WeightThe maximum weight of the drone, including batteries and other add-ons.
AxisAn imaginary line about which a body rotates. It’s one plane of potential flight. Most quadcopters have at least 4 axis controls, with 6+ being preferred.
Balanced Battery ChargerThis is a charger or an internal system for Lipo batteries (or different chemistries) which uses smart technology to charge multiple cells properly that are located within the battery and balances them.
BandoAn abandoned building or structure suitable for FPV operations. Knowing what a bando is doesn’t necessarily enhance your technical knowledge or ability, but it’s fun to say and will definitely make it sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Barometric AltimeterAn instrument to indicate altitude.
Barometric Pressure SensorThis device used barometric readings to determine the altitude of the aircraft. It can help drones to be able to calculate their height above the ground, along with using combinations of other sensors. (Enables Altitude Hold feature)
BatteryThe battery supplies your drone with power. The most common type of FPV drone battery is a lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) battery, which is a multi-cell battery available with different cell configurations: from one cell (1S) all the way up to eight cells (8S). Generally speaking, more cells equal more power and thus more speed, but they also equal more weight overall, which impacts total flight time.
BandFPV drones transmit video over certain frequencies (or channels). These channels are split into specific groups called bands (Band A, Band B, etc.). Each band has eight specific channels, each with its own unique frequency.
Battery Elimination CircuitAn electronic circuit design to deliver electrical power to other circuitry without the need for multiple batteries.
Bind The process of making the controller (Transmitter) communicate with the quadcopter or the drone. This means connected.
Bind N FlyBind-N-Fly models are basically RTF drones with a receiver, but not a radio controller – you must purchase these separately.
BluetoothA wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz) from fixed and mobile devices, and building Personal AreaNetworks (PANs). Originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several concurrent devices.
BrushedOne of the two types of motors commonly used in FPV drones. In general, brushed motors are weaker than brushless motors and typically only used in very small (or micro) FPV drones
Brushless MotorThese motors have permanent magnets that rotate around a fixed armature, which eliminates any problems that could be associated with connecting current regarding a moving part. The brushless motors are much more efficient and hardy than brushed motors. Used for aircraft/drones.
Beyond Visual Line of SightThe ability to operate an unmanned aircraft beyond the pilot’s line of sight. Flying UAS beyond visual line of sight requires a special permit from the FAA.
BootloaderThe unique code stored in non-volatile memory in a microprocessor that can interface with a PC to download a user‘s program.
BuildA drone unit that was built and assembled at home.
Center of GravityA point from which the weight of a body or system may be considered to act.
CameraThe camera is one of the most critical components of your FPV system. Typically, the camera is mounted on the front of the air frame, thus enabling that unique “first-person view,” where it seems as though you are looking through the “eyes” of the drone. Important features to consider when evaluating an FPV drone’s camera system are the field of view, aspect ratio, picture quality, and, perhaps most important of all, latency.
Camera gimbalThe holder of the camera used on drones. It can tilt and swerve, thanks to the servos that power it.
Carbon FiberAn extremely strong, lightweight material known for its superior durability and resistance to heat and corrosion. The bodies of Microdrones UAVs are constructed from carbon fiber.
CE markingThe letters ‘CE’ signify that products sold in the EEA have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.
Certificate of AuthorizationA permit/waiver issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing a public operator to perform specific UAS operations.
Certified categoryVLOS, EVLOS and BVLOS operations under EU legislation, inside and outside controlled airspace. Operations with a high risk profile. Autonomous flights are allowed.
ChannelSee band.
Civil aviationThis includes commercial and private aviation. Another word is: civil aviation.
CleanFlightA flight controller software for multi-rotor and fixed wings.
Collision/obstacle AvoidanceA feature built-in to some drones that allow the aircraft to sense and avoid obstacles, minimizing collisions.
Commercial DronesA unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed for heavy use. These flying platforms have a specific purpose in mind such as for infrared inspection, package delivery, or for seach and resuce. Typical models of drones include the DJI Matrice 210 and DJI Matrice 600 Pro.
Commercial FlightFlying a drone for money-making purposes.
Controlled AirspaceAn airspace of defined dimensions within which ATC services are provided.
ControllerThe handheld device that is used by the drone pilot that is used to control the drone and the quadcopter. Controllers are also called transmitters.
Control AreaA control area named CTA is a controlled airspace that exists in the vicinity of an airport, which extends from a lower level to a specified upper level. The lower level shall not be the ground. It usually is situated on top of a control zone and provides protection to aircraft climbing out from the airport.
Controlled Traffic RegionSee the Control Zone.
Control ZoneA control zone named CTR or known as controlled traffic region is a controlled airspace, normally around an airport, which extends from the surface to a specified upper limit, established to protect air traffic operating to and from that airport.
Corridor MappingAn application that involves mapping extremely long, narrow areas or structures, like roads, railways, oil and gas pipelines, retaining walls, etc. Microdrones direct georeferencing and LiDAR solutions are especially beneficial for corridor mapping.
Cx labelIt’s given when drone meets EU technical requirements
Daisy ChainVisual observers assisting the pilot when the drone goes beyond visual line of sight.
Detect and AvoidThe capability to see, sense or detect conflicting, traffic or other hazards and take the appropriate.
Differential Global Positioning SystemAn enhancement to the Global Positioning System (GPS) which provides improved location accuracy.
DJIShenzhen DJI Sciences and Technologies Ltd, which stands for Da-Jiang Innovations, is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong with manufacturing facilities throughout the world.
DJI Drone Flight ModesDJI’s drones have Intelligent Flight Modes that help pilots control and maneuver the aircraft to capture photos and videos safely and efficiently. DJI’s commercial and professional drones are packed full of unique Intelligent Flight Modes. These modes help pilots control their aircraft, capture amazing video and images and help keep pilots and their aircraft safe.
Digital Spectrum ModulationThe process of encoding a digital information signal into the amplitude, phase, or frequency of the transmitted signal.
Direct georeferencingA highly accurate and efficient method of connecting aerial images to their position on the Earth and putting them together in the most precise possible order. DG accomplishes this by measuring each image’s 3D coordinates and orientation angles via a GNSS receiver and an inertial measurement unit, rather than computing some or all of these (as is done in methods like traditional surveying/aerial triangulation, RTK, or PPK). Direct georeferencing reduces the amount of time required to collect and post-process data and eliminates the need for ground control points.
DroneAnother term for “unmanned aerial vehicles”(UAVs) or “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA), covering a wide range of functions.
DronieA self-portrait photograph (selfie) or video captured using a camera drone.
Drone Racing LeagueA professional drone racing league that holds and operates international drone races.
DSM / DSM2 / DSMXSpektrum, an RC equipment maker, refers to their proprietary technology as “Digital Spectrum Modulation.” Each transmitter has a globally unique identifier (GUID), to which receivers can be bound, ensuring that no transmitter will interfere with other nearby Spektrum DSM systems. DSM uses Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) technology.
Direct-Sequence Spread Spectruma modulation technique. As with other spread spectrum technologies, the transmitted signal takes up more bandwidth than the information signal that modulates the carrier or broadcast frequency. The name ‘spread spectrum’ comes from the fact that the carrier signals occur over the full bandwidth (spectrum) of a device’s transmitting frequency.
eBee XA fixed-wing drone produced by sensFly capable of covering more distance that a quadcopter used for carrying different payload options for photogrammetry, 3D mapping, multipectral, and infrared.
Electro-optical/InfraredPertains to Electro-optical/Infrared sensors
Electromagnetic InterferenceAlso known as radio-frequency interference (RFI) when in the radio frequency spectrum, is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit by electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, or conduction.
Electronic Speed controlDevice to control the motor in an electric aircraft. Serves as the connection between the main battery and the RC receiver. Usually includes a Battery Elimination Circuit, which provides power for the RC system and other onboard electronics, such as an autopilot.
ElevatorAnother term for “pitch” – moving the drone up or down.
EliosA collission tolerant intuitive and precise drone for indoor inspection.
Extended Visual Line of SightAllows flight beyond Visual Line of Sight of the Remote Pilot by using “trained observers”.
Federal Aviation AdministrationA United States Department of Transportation Agency, with the authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of American civil aviation.
Fail SafeA system or plan that comes into operation in the event of something going wrong or that is there to prevent such an occurrence.
Frequency Hopping Spread SpectrumA method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly changing the carrier frequency among many distinct frequencies occupying a large spectral band.
Field of ViewDescribes the viewing angle from the camera of the drone.
FirmwareThe software or sketch that is loaded into the non-volatile memory of microprocessor based products. It is called ‘firmware’ because it stays in the non-volatile memory even if power is removed – thus ‘non’ – volatile. In the case of the autopilots, it is the ‘program’ or application (App to smart phone users) that determines what the auto pilot does, and how.
Fixed wing dronesUAVs that consist of a rigid wing that generates lift via aerofoil and typically a small push propeller. Fixed wing drones can travel greater distances with less power due to the wing.
Flight Information RegionA specified region of airspace in which a flight information service and an alerting service are provided.
Flight LevelAn aircraft’s altitude at standard air pressure, expressed in hundreds of feet.
Flight EnvelopeThe range of combinations of speed, altitude, angle of attack, etc., within which a flying object is aerodynamically stable.
Fly AwayUnintended flight outside of operational boundaries (altitude/airspeed/lateral) as the result of a failure of the control element or onboard systems, or both. It normally happens when your controller’s link to the drone is interrupted or completely lost thus making it difficult or impossible to control the drone.
Fly Away Protection SystemWhen the communication between pilot and drone is lost, this system will return the drone to the pre-selected area.
FlySafe DatabaseGPS coordinates for where your drone is not able to fly.
Flight LogA record of a single flight.
Field of ViewRepresents the ground swath width. The “drone’s-eye” view.
First Person ViewA technique that uses an onboard video camera and wireless connection to the ground allow a pilot on the ground with video goggles to fly with a cockpit view.
Flight ControllerA device that receives the inputs from the sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, vision sensors, ultrasonic sensors) and remote controller of the drone which then sends inputs to the electronic speed controls and motors about how the drone should move.
FLIRAcronym for forwarding Looking InfraRed, a company located in The United States. FLIR specializes in infrared technology to detect distant objects in low and zero visibility situations.
Follow MeFeature that allows the drone to automatically follow a subject – typically using a GPS signal from a mobile device, remote control or beacon.
FPV cameraA specially-made camera for the first-person view capabilities of the drone. Typically found in racing drones or camera drones.
FPV DroneA system in which a drone operator pilots a drone through the camera located on board. The operator wears goggles with screens inside that streams the drones camera footage it in real-time.
FPV RacingAn emerging sport where special types of drones, usually small racing UAVs, race around a predetermined track.
FrequencyTo maintain communication with the pilot and drone through FPV, both pieces of equipment will need to be on the same radio frequency. FPV systems use specific radio frequencies to transmit and receive signals. With respect to FPV drones, the most common frequencies are 2.4 and 5.8GHz.
FreestyleA type of FPV flying that focuses on acrobatics, exploration, and enjoyment. Unlike FPV racing and photography/cinematography, freestyle flying doesn’t have one specific objective. It’s great for beginners who want to get the feel of FPV flying down. Likewise, it’s where experienced FPV pilots practice tricks, train for a race, or rehearse an upcoming shot. There is no specific set of rules for how to freestyle fly, but there are lots of benefits.
GapAny small area through which a drone can fly. A common element in both FPV racing and freestyle flying.
GeofencingTechnology that uses global positioning system (GPS & GLONASS) to establish a virtual geographic boundary to prevent drones from flying into specific areas.
Geographic Information SystemA system used to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.
GeotaggingIncluding geographic information in the metadata of a photo, so those processing the images can more easily determine the precise position of points in the image. Microdrones offers a free tool called mdGeotager to help users simplify this process.
GimbalA 2 or 3 axis device that keeps equipment steady when the supporting platform moves. A mechanical camera stabilization features that lets you get smooth video and clear photos even while your drone in quickly flying (even in high winds).
Global Positioning SystemIt’s used to track the position of an object in relation to the global spatial plane, track movement, or cause an airborne vehicle such as a quadcoptor to hold position. Satellite network in possession of the USA army.
Global Navigation Satellite SystemThe standard generic term for satellite navigation systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial position with global coverage.
Ground Control SystemA system of accurate measurements used to determine the distances and directions or differences in elevation between points on the Earth.
Ground Control PointPoints positioned on the surface of the Earth in known locations and used to georeference collected data. Surveyors and other geospatial professionals often install many ground control points for large projects to ensure accuracy. With a direct georeferencing UAV mapping solution, no ground control points are necessary.
Ground Control StationSoftware running on a computer on the ground that receives telemetry information from an airborne UAV and displays its progress and status, often including video and other sensor data. Can also be used to transmit in-flight commands to the UAV.
GogglesFPV goggles are used to stream video from your drone to you in real time. Similar to virtual reality (VR) goggles, FPV goggles feature two small screens that sit directly in front of your eyes. Your FPV goggles receive the video from your drone and then display it on these screens in real time, giving you a live, first-person view of flying from the drone’s perspective.
GoProIt manufactures action camera that can be attached to drones.
Global Position SystemA U.S.-owned utility that provides users with positioning, navigation, and timing services.
GLONASSGlobalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, or Global Navigation Satellite System is another satellite network drones use to understand where they are in space.
GyroscopeA gyroscope or gyro, measures the rate of rotation of the UAV and helps keep the craft balanced correctly with respect to yaw, pitch and roll. Helps to maintain the orientation of the quadcopter while in flight. In most cases, quadcopters use a triple-axis gyroscope.
Head TrackingA feature that allows you to move the camera on the drone with your head using goggles that allow you to move your head up and down to control the camera.
Headless ModeFor beginner pilots – Using a mode that means the drone will always travel forward, backward, left or right when moving your remote’s stick in those directions – regardless of which way the front of the drone is pointed.
HexacopterA multirotor aircraft that has 6 propellers, with 3 that turn clockwise and 3 that turn counterclockwise.
High Intensity Radio Transmission AreaFlying through an HIRTA can interfere with the electronics on your drone.
Hobby DroneA mid-sized drone for beginner hobbyists; typically with built-in cameras or can carry payloads.
Hobby-GradeA step above toy grade drones. These types of quadcopters are reliable at a reasonable price. Examples are Syma X8G and MJX Bugs.
Hyperspectral ImagingMethod of measuring across the electromagnetic spectrum to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in an image in order to find objects, identify materials or detect processes.
Inertial Measurement UnitAn electronic device that measures and reports a body’s specific force, angular rate, and sometimes the orientation of the body, using a combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes, and sometimes magnetometers. Usually has at least three accelerometers (measuring the gravity vector in the x,y and z dimensions) and two gyros (measuring rotation around the tilt and pitch axis). Neither are sufficient by themselves, since accelerometers are thrown off by movement (ie, they are “noisy” over short periods of time), while gyros drift over time. The data from both types of sensors must be combined in software to determine true aircraft attitude and movement to create an AHRS (see above).
Inertial Navigation SystemA way to calculate position based on an initial GPS reading followed by readings from motion and speed sensors using dead reckoning. Useful when GPS is not available or has temporarily lost its signal.
Inner Loop / Outer LoopUsually used to refer to the stabilization and navigation functions of an autopilot. The stabilization function must run in real-time and as often as 100 times a second (“inner loop”), while the navigation function can run as infrequently as once per second and can tolerate delays and interruptions (“outer loop”).
Intelligent Orientation ControlUsually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By using Intelligent Orientation Control, wherever the nose points,the forward direction has nothing to do with nose direction
Infrared Drone/UAVA unmanned remote-controlled aerial vehicle with an infrared imaging camera onboard. An infrared camera sees a region of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum where thermal energy is emitted. Infrared imaging sensors detect incoming infrared energy and software interprets the signals into a digital infrared image or video.
IP Rating or CodeA rating system that classifies the degree of protection that an electrical enclosure has against water and dust.
JelloA distortion in video feeds that is caused by the vibration of the drone. Typically, drones without a quality gimbal suffer from jello effect.
Kalman FilterA relatively complicated algorithm that is primarily used to combine accelerometer and gyro data to provide an accurate description of aircraft attitude and movement in real time.
KilobyteOne Kilobyte is 1000 bytes and is a way of measuring the amount storage space.
KilometresUnit of measurement part of the metric units of measurement.
LatencyVideo latency is a critical factor in FPV flying. It indicates the time delay (or lag) between what you and your drone see. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes for video to be transmitted from your drone to you. When flying an FPV drone, you want a minimal amount of latency, otherwise you won’t be able to react to your environment in real time, which can result in a crash.
LCD monitorA screen usually attached to a controller used to view the drone's camera and flight data.
LeaksWhen there are products close to release and unofficial photos and videos of it appear online.
Light Detection and RangingA method for measuring distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor. LiDAR is a method of detecting, measuring and mapping using a laser. LiDAR is typically used in situations where standard survey techniques are difficult.
Line of SightRefers to being able to see your drone from your operating position with your naked eye. Your drone should always be within your line of sight.
Lithium IonA type of rechargeable battery uses lithium ions as the primary component of its electrolyte.
Lithium Polymer batteryA rechargeable battery of lithium-ion battery technology using a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid electrolyte. This battery chemistry offers more power and lighter weight than NiMh and NiCad batteries.
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability systemA collaboration between the FAA and private companies in support of UAS integration into national airspace. LAANC allows drones access to controlled airspace in near real-time.
MagnetometerA device that measures magnetic field or magnetic dipole moment. It’s inside the flight controller that acts as a compass by measuring the Earth’s magnetic field to determine its orientation.
MAVLinkMost commonly found as protocols for communication between drones and ground control systems (GCS) to convey orientation, speed, etc.
Maximum Elevation FigureA type of visual flight rule (VFR) information that indicates the elevation of the highest geographical feature within a quadrangle area.
mdCockpitMicrodrones’ easy-to-use software and Android tablet app that simplifies flight planning, monitoring, and analysis.
Mean Sea LevelRefers to the altitude above the average height of the ocean/sea. A UAV flying at 120 feet with a 30-foot hill below would still be at 120 Feet MSL.
METARMeteorological Terminal Aviation Routine Weather Report or Meteorological Aerodrome Report. METAR is a specific format for reporting weather information.
Micro-air vehicleA small drone. Many have size restrictions.
milli Amp hoursA unit that measures (electric) power over time, used to describe the energy capacity of a battery.
Micro Air VehicleA class of miniature UAVs that has a size restriction and may be autonomous.
Micro Controller UnitThe MCU is your FC’s (flight controller’s) processor. Continuing our human-body analogy: If the FC is the brain, then the MCU is sort of like the hippocampus – it’s where memory (firmware) is stored and accessed. The MCU also handles all the complex calculations the FC uses to regulate flight.
Mini droneA type of drone that is inexpensive without camera attachments or payloads; for beginners or children.
MissionA pre-planned flight aimed to achieve a specific purpose, such as the collection of data or images.
Mistakes HighMistakes high is a variable measurement indicating the level of altitude needed to recover in the event of user or flight system error. For example, if you were flying a drone at an altitude of 80′ in an open field, you’d be flying 1 or 2 “mistakes high,” depending on the pilot. In other words, the drone is high enough that you can recover from either 1 or 2 mistakes before crashing.
Mobius CameraA popular type of camera that is lightweight and can take video footage in high-definition. It can also take intervalometer photos. The camera is mostly used in RC drones.
ModShort for modifications. Custom changes made by drone owners into their crafts to add features and functionalities that are not usually commercially available
ModdingModifying your quadcopter. Example: adding a better camera.
Mode 1 TransmittersHave throttle on the right stick and are popular in the UK.
Mode 2 TransmittersHave throttle on the left stick and are more popular in the USA.
Model AircraftAn unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within VLOS of the person operating the aircraft and flown fo hobby or recreational purposes.
MotorThe motor assembly is what’s responsible for spinning the props of your FPV drone and providing enough thrust to fly. There are two types of motors commonly used with FPV drones: brushed and brushless.
MulticopterA multirotor or multicopter is a rotorcraft with more than two or more propellers.
MultiGPAn international drone racing league that manages and governs various radio-controlled racing.
Multispectral ImageImage that captures data at specific frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Multispectral ImageryA type of imagery commonly used in agriculture, this is captured by a multispectral camera which detects light humans can not see.
Nano DroneAn extremely small drone that can fit in the palm of your hand and you can fly indoors.
Natura 2000Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right.
NAZAA type of controller that is used in DJI Phantom drones. It includes the main control chip, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a barometric altimeter.
No Fly ZoneAreas where flying a drone is restricted by government regulations. Areas where a drone could interfere with an airplane or record sensitive information make up most of these areas.
Non-civil aviationThis includes air traffic used for military, police and customs tasks.
Notice to AirmenA written notification issued to pilots before a flight, advising them of circumstances relating to the state of flying. A temporary adjustment of access to airspace (often in the form of a no-fly zone).
O3 TransmissionDJI Air 2S features DJI’s most advanced O3 (OcuSync 3.0) image transmission technology, delivering an ultra-smooth, clear, and reliable image feed.
Obstacle Avoidance SystemSystem pre-programmed into a drone that alerts pilots to obstacles and collision dangers.
OctocopterA multirotor aircraft that has eight propellers. Four spinning clockwise and 4 spinning counter-clockwise.
On-Screen DisplayA way to integrate data (often telemetry information) into the real-time video stream the aircraft is sending to the ground.
Open categoryVLOS operations under EU legislation up to a maximum height of 120 meters, outside controlled airspace and characterized by a low risk level. Automatic flights are allowed.
OrthomosaicA drone map comprised of a collection of photos from the selected area that have been stitched together.
Part 107Required in the United Stated when operating a drone for commercial purposes. Administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
PayloadThe amount of additional weight a drone is able to lift in addition to its own weight and batteries. If you attach a camera and gimbal to your drone, the combined weight is the payload.
PhotogrammetryA method of surveying and mapping through stitching photographs together to make one large image.
Photogrammetric MappingA method of map making using measurements from photographs
Pilot in CommandHas final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight. Refers to a FAA requirement that UAVs stay under a pilot’s direct control if they are flying under the recreational exemption to COA approval.
P ModeThis is the standard flight mode for most pilots. In the P Mode, all sensors on the drone are active including GPS and infrared sensors. This allows precise hovering of the drone, even if the user stops controlling it with the remote controller.
PitchA measure which describes the flight angle along one axis, usually measured from level in case of aerial vehicles.
Point of InterestDesignates a spot that a UAV should keep a camera pointed towards.
Power Distribution BoardA board used in multicopters to distribute power to multiple Electronic Speed controls.
Post-processingUsing software to transform georeferenced data into a more usable deliverable like a 3-D model or orthomosaic.
Post-Processing KinematicA satellite positioning technology similar to RTK.
Printed circuit boardA specialized board designed and “fabbed” for a dedicated purpose, as opposed to a breadboard or prototype board, which can be used and resused for many projects.
Precision AgricultureFarming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.
Pre Defined Risk AssessmentAnalysis of a type of operation, which may be derived from an STS. A PDRA must be submitted to the NAA for permission to operate in the specific category.
Pre Flight PlanningThe activities conducted by the pilot and flight crew prior to takeoff to ensure that the flight will be conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable standards and regulations. The activity includes, but is not limited to, such things as checking weather, route of flight, airspace, equipment configuration, support personnel, terrain and communications requirements.
Pulse Width ModulationThe square-wave signals used in RC control to drive servos and speed controllers. There is one PWM signal for each channel. The width varies from 1000 to 2000 microseconds, depending on the RC manufacturer.
Professional DroneHigh-end UAVs that are equipped with the latest technologies and imaging sensors. Often times the drone itself and the camera are sold separately.
Propeller (Prop)A angled bladed uses to create an area of high and low pressure to provide lift or thrust.
Quad/QuadcopterA multirotor aircraft that uses four rotors (propellers), 2 clockwise and 2 counterclockwise to generate lift.
RacingRacing is one of the most popular uses for FPV drones. In an FPV drone race, pilots use FPV equipment to race each other around a predetermined track.
Racing droneA drone relatively smaller and more agile; developed for drone racing; includes a built-in camera for a cockpit view.
RacebandA frequency (5.8 GHz) typically used in drone racing especially when multiple pilots are flying.
Radio ControlledControl of a drone via radio waves.
Radio Mandatory ZoneIn a RMZ it is mandatory to maintain two-way radio contact with Air Traffic Control.
Received Signal Strength IndicatorThe unit of measurement used to estimate the radio signal strength between a controller and a drone.
Return to LaunchFly back to the “home” location where the aircraft took off.
Return to HomeA safety feature that allows the drone to autonomously fly back to the pilot’s location and/or starting point.
Racing DroneA small quadcopter that is designed to participate and compete in FPV (first person view) racing events.
Ready-To-FlyA drone that requires little to no assembly and is ready-to-fly straight out of the box.
Real-Time KineticsSatellite positioning technology that draws on GPS and GLONASS data to precisely pinpoint a drone’s location.
Resume FlightA system feature that allows the drone to resume the mission at the last waypoint where it left off before pausing for a battery change or any other reason. This is especially helpful in commercial applications like surveying, mapping, and inspection.
Revolutions Per MinuteThe unit of measurement used to determine the number of times the drone’s motors turn in 1 minute.
(The) RoadmapA document released in 2013 by the FAA detailing safety guidelines for drone flight in national airspace.
RollThe rotation of the aircraft from nose to tail (front to back on a copter). Basically, roll refers to the movement of the drone forward, backward, left and right along a horizontal axis.
RotorcraftA drone that generates lift through rotor blades instead of wings.
Rotary or Rotary Wing DroneA Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft, such as a helicopter or multi-rotor drone.
RudderAnother term for “yaw.” This is rotating the drone clockwise or counterclockwise.
SAFE TechnologySensor Assisted Flight Envelope technology is a revolutionary electronic flight envelope protection system. It also offers smoother flight capability that battles windy conditions for you and multiple modes so you can fly with the level of protection and assistance that suits any given moment of the flight.
Self-LevelKeeps your drone level even without stick input. In general, there are two types of self-leveling: angle mode and horizon mode. Angle mode is the most restrictive, as it prevents the drone from exceeding certain pitch or roll angles. Horizon mode is slightly less prohibitive, because it allows for controlled rolls, but will still self-level if there is no stick input.
Selfie DroneTypically a small portable drone that is used to take photos or videos from an aerial perspective.
Sense And AvoidThe capability of a UAS to remain well clear from and avoid collisions with other airborne traffic. Sense and Avoid provides the functions of self-separation and collision avoidance.
SensorA device that responds to a detected (or sensed) physical stimulus by performing a set task. Most of the sensors onboard Microdrones UAS perform measurements and data collection.
Servomotor or servomechanismAn electromagnetic device that converts electricity into precise controlled motion. Aerial vehicles use servomotors for various functions such as pan cameras and wing flaps adjustments which can be controlled from the ground.
SidelapThe percentage of an image that must overlap with adjacent images to allow for accurate georeferencing.
SkydioDrone manufacturer located in Redwood City, California.
Small Unmanned Aircraft SystemUnmanned aircraft systems, such as drones or quadcopters that weigh less than 55lbs.
S ModeAlso known as Sports Mode, the S Mode allows the DJI drone to fly and maneuver twice as fast (about 40 mph to 65 mph)
Spatial AwarenessThe capability of a drone to be aware of its boundaries and positioning.
Specific categoryVLOS, EVLOS and BVLOS operations under EU legislation, inside and outside controlled airspace. Operations have a medium risk profile. Automatic flights are allowed.
Specific Operations Risk AssessmentAn extensive risk analysis of an operation, which has to be performed if an operation in the specific category does not comply with an STS or PDRA.
SpotterWhen flying in FPV, this person keeps the drone in their visual line of sight.
Standard scenarioAn exemption at national or European level for an operation in the specific category.
Temporary Flight RestrictionA temporary notice of restriction on a specific area of airspace because of the presence of government VIPs, special events, natural disasters, and other unusual occurrences.
Temporary Restricted AreaAirspace temporarily reserved and allocated for the exclusive use of a specific user during a determined period of time.
TelemetryThe process of recording and transmitting the reading of an instrument.
Telemetry SystemA two way radio system to allow flight data to be sent from your aircraft and also to allow control or adjustment information to be sent back to it from a “ground station”, commonly a laptop computer.
Thermal SensorSensor used to detect heat.
ThrottleControls the vertical up and down motion of the drone. Positive throttle will make the drone fly higher and negative throttle will make the drone fly lower. Basically it controls that influences the RPM or the speed of electric motors.
ThrustThe amount of upward force your drone can produce when at full throttle.
Terminal Control AreaA terminal area named TMA or known as terminal manoeuvring area is a controlled airspace surrounding a major airport with a high volume of traffic.
Terminal Area ForecastA weather forecast for a longer period, for example 8, 24 or 36 hours.
Terminal Manoeuvring AreaSegregation of aircraft horizontally and vertically by air traffic control.
Tijdelijk gebied met beperkingenTemporary area with local restrictions in the Netherlands
Toy-gradeA type of drone that is meant for beginners with basic functionalities.
Toy droneSee Mini drone.
Transponder Mandatory ZoneIn a TMZ you are obliged to put a Mode S transponder on the drone.
TricopterA multirotor drone with three motors.
TrimButtons on the remote control that help you adjust roll, pitch, yaw and throttle if they are off balance.
UAS IncursionA non-participating UAS operating over or near a wildfire that:
Intrudes into a Temporary Flight Restriction, or
Interferes with fire management efforts and the interference is documented through the appropriate reporting system*.
Example of appropriate reporting systems would include SAFECOM, SAFENET, or a reporting system used by one of the states.
UAS RegulationCommission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 of 24 May 2019 on the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft
Ultrasonic sensorsThese sensors work in pairs. One sensor sends out the sound pulse while the other receives the pulse. The difference between the sending and receiving is used to calculate height and is used for drone stability.
Uncontrolled AirspaceAirspace where there are no air traffic control (ATC) services necessary or available because of practical reasons. ICAO set airspace F and G as uncontrolled.
Unmanned Aircraft SystemUnmanned aircraft, such as drones, controlled by an operator on the ground.
Unmanned Aerial VehicleIn the military, these are increasingly called Unmanned Aerial Systems, to reflect that the aircraft is just part of a complex system in the air and on the ground.
Unmanned Traffic ManagementAn air traffic management system under development by NASA, the FAA, and other government agencies that will traffic low altitude drone flights.
Upright LaunchThis is the ability of the drone to take off upright, as opposed to fixed wing aircraft. Also called “vertical takeoff” (VTOL).
U-SpaceFlight area for operations assigned to (in particular) the certified category.
UV SensorSensor used to detect Ultraviolet light
Video LatencyRefers to the amount of time it takes for a single frame of video to transfer from the camera to the display.
Virtual Reality GogglesA VR headset for drones made so it can come with advanced features like head tracking, or simply used for more immersion.
Visual ObserverA crew member that assists the UAS pilot in the duties associated with collision avoidance. This includes, but is not limited to, avoidance of other traffic, airborne objects, clouds, obstructions, and terrain.
Visual Line of SightThe pilot’s ability to see an aircraft from the ground well enough to control it, without the use of artificial visual aids (aside from glasses).
Vertical TakeoffThis is the ability of the drone to take off upright, as opposed to fixed wing aircraft. Also called “upright launch.”
VOLMETA meteorological information for aircraft in flight, is a worldwide network of radio stations that broadcast TAF, SIGMET and METAR reports on shortwave frequencies, and in some countries on VHF too. Reports are sent in upper sideband mode, using automated voice transmissions.
Vortex Ring State or ‘settling with power’ or ‘power settling’ VRS, (this flight condition also sometimes called ‘settling with power’ or ‘power settling’) is an aerodynamic condition for helicopters normally generated in nearly vertical or vertical descent when the relative upward air velocity equals the downward induced main rotor flow rate. In a well-developed vortex ring state, most of the engine power is consumed by accelerating air in a circular pattern around the rotor system. The vortex ring state causes turbulent rotational flow across the blades with increasing roughness and possible loss of control. The helicopter continues to descend, and a natural reaction is to increase power by raising the collective control. This merely increases the strength of the vortex ring, and the helicopter will settle even faster. To recover from this situation, the pilot needs to remove the helicopter from the column of air. This can be done in any direction; however, it is best to accelerate forward and reduce the collective pitch slightly. This will normally result is a minimum altitude loss. In the early stages of development, a large application of power (if available) might be sufficient to overcome the upward moving air and initiate a recovery. Theoretically, entering autorotation would change the airflow and result in a recovery, although it would also produce a large loss of altitude. The standard prevention is to avoid vertical descent and keep some forward movement while descending.
WaypointA set of coordinates, which define a point in space. Waypoints are useful in designing various autonomous missions for quadcopters. Mapping out would be impossible without a possibility to define these physical locations.
Wide Area Augmentation SystemA system of satellites and ground stations that provide GPS signal corrections, giving up to five times better position accuracy than uncorrected GPS.
WiFi FPVThis type of FPV is common with more inexpensive drones. Typically, the pilot connects to a mobile app to receive the drone’s live stream.
WingspanThe maximum distance from wingtip to wingtip.
XWingRefers to the x design on a drone’s framework.
YawQuadcopter rotation around it’s center axis on a level plane.
YWingRefers to the y design on a drone’s framework.
Zenmuse CameraDJI’s line of high-end cameras designed for enterprise/commercial grade work. These include DJI’s infrared(XT2), large sensor(X5S), and zoom cameras(Z30).


We have learned about main terms used in connection with drones.

Please leave a comment if anything else should be added.

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Drone – Main abbreviations

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Last update: 16/12/2021


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