UAV Vs Drone: Main Differences You Need to Know


Speaking of flying machines, drones and UAVs work in a similar manner. They function on the same mechanisms and the machinery is also, more or less, the same. The big difference between the two lies in the way they are used.

UAV vs Drone

In layman terms, interchanging the terms ‘drone’ and ‘UAV’ is harmless. People are spotted calling drones as UAVs and vice versa. But technically speaking, one cannot possibly interchange their meanings and terminologies.

Difference Between Drone and UAV

Read on to learn their terminologies better and understand their advantages and uses.

Understanding the terms:

The terms UAV and Drone are confusing by themselves. Most people take it a step higher by interchanging their usage. Drones are a broad category. They basically include every machine that can be flown or driven across without human intervention. Drones are either run by a software or by remote pilots.

UAV, on the other hand, stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This aircraft runs without a pilot at all times. UAVs are specified aerial vehicles. Drones, a broad category, includes aerial vehicles, and even remotely run cars and submarines.

‘Drones’ is a casually used word while ‘UAV’ is more of a technical term. In other words, all UAVs are drones, but not all drones are UAVs.

Functions of Drones:


Many people use drones just for fun. The thrill of being able to control a flying machine is beyond any other. A camera atop a drone is capable of filming videos too. Drones are majorly used for filming at-large locations and underwater scenes.

So, when you hear your friend bragging about a ‘drone’ they bought for themselves and how it can click pictures and record areal views, they are really talking about a drone. There are multiple varieties of drones available each catering to different aspects. Many people use drones just to fly them around their homes. Some filmmakers use it to shoot areal and underwater scenes. Youtubers use drones to capture good shots to improve their filmmaking abilities.

Detectives too use drones to spy on concerned people. These drones collect pictures and videos of the person they intend to spy upon. Many times, one can also obtain live footage from the drone camera. Drones come in many different sizes and prices. Each one is different in terms of battery use, camera memory, and functional performance.

Functions of UAVs:


UAVs are almost always controlled by the government and not by individuals for recreational activities. The exclusive feature of UAVs is that they can be reused. They are monitored by a remote control or a software.

Common people cannot be given access to UAVs. They are strictly run by the government authorities alone. So, if your friend tells you he bought a ‘UAV’, he is actually referring to his drone.

Although missiles can be classified as drones, they don’t fall under the category of UAVs. Missiles are UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems. They can go off and explode and can’t be reused. So, when you hear about military drones, they are actually referring to UAVs.

  • UAS: Unmanned Aerial Systems or missiles are also controlled remotely. They can even be run by a software. However, it is not technically correct to call a UAS a UAV, since the former can’t be reused but the latter can.
  • RPA: Remotely Piloted Aircraft or RPAs are a popular type of UAVs. These are called so because they require exclusive technical skills to run. They can only be monitored by experts and not by simple tools alone. RPAs can also be reused, so it won’t be completely wrong to refer to them as UAVs. One can rightly conclude that all RPAs are UAVs, but not all UAVs are RPAs.


The terms and functions of drones and UAVs may be unclear for people who have just started understanding about them. But the more time you spend researching on drones, UAVs, and quadcopters, you are going to learn better and deeper about them. The above-mentioned differences are enough to tell drones apart from UAVs. On the surface and an amateur, this is enough information to keep yourself aware. But if you need to dig deeper, you can always resort to a professional who is better able to tell which machine can do what.



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