Popular Science: A Guide to Common Drone Vocabulary

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Intros' started by Albert2019, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. Albert2019

    Albert2019 New Member

    Sep 29, 2019
    If you're unfamiliar with drones (or even unfamiliar), reading all the words in the industry and expecting to fully understand it can be daunting. That's why we are here to help with the Drone Vocabulary Guide! The goal is to make sure you understand what you are reading, especially the specifications.


    A device for sensing and measuring 3-dimensional acceleration mainly used to help stabilize drones. Usually, these are built into the flight computer.

    Automatic leveling

    Enables drones to automatically travel in uniform flight.

    Autonomous flight

    No human intervention is required to complete the flight of the system.


    Beyond sight. The operator cannot see any flight of the drone with independent vision (binoculars, cameras, etc.), including when the operator cannot tell which direction the drone is facing.

    Coverage area

    The area that a drone can cover during flight. For many drones, this will change depending on the payload configuration.

    Cruising speed

    Speed of the drone during the flight cruise phase.


    The ability to see, sense or detect air traffic or other hazards and take action to prevent collisions.

    flight duration

    Drone flight time. This is usually the longest time when viewing drone specifications. When scheduling a task, this is the time required to complete the task.


    Ground control station. GCS is usually the interface that operators use to control or issue commands to drones.


    An accessory used with the payload option to stabilize cameras and sensors to retrieve better data or to direct the payload in different directions during operation.


    Ground sampling distance. GSD is the distance between pixels in an image measured on the object under inspection (mostly the ground). For example, a 1-inch GSD is equivalent to each pixel in a photo being 1 inch wide, or about a quarter the size. A better GSD usually results in more accurate and higher quality data during pre-processing and post-processing. GSD is a function of payload and height.


    A device that assists a drone to maintain a reference direction during a flight.


    A method of flying a drone from the ground to the air.


    Light detection and ranging. LiDAR payloads use light (usually by using a pulsed laser) to measure the distance to the earth. LiDAR payloads typically use very fast pulsed laser arrays to collect a large number of data points. These data points will be processed with the data collected for the location of the LiDAR system to build a 3D model.


    The operator can see the drone without glasses and know any flight in its direction.

    Lithium-Ion Battery

    Lithium-Ion Battery. A battery that typically provides higher efficiency than LiPo, but at the cost of less power available at a given time. These batteries are very useful at low power, and efficiency is paramount. These batteries are also more flammable than others, so it's usually best to equip them with protection circuitry to protect them from dangerous situations.

    Lithium battery

    lithium polymer battery. Compared to similar-sized lithium-ion batteries, these batteries can often provide large amounts of power quickly, but at the cost of efficiency. These batteries also typically have a shorter life than lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are suitable for high-power activities or systems where efficiency is not critical.

    Takeoff weight

    The maximum weight at which a drone can safely take off and complete a mission.

    Maximum wind

    The maximum wind speed that the drone should use. This may apply to gusts or sustained winds, which is usually specified by the manufacturer.

    No-fly zone

    Where U.S. government restrictions do not allow any drones to fly.

    Optical resolution

    The resolution provided by optical sensors.


    All options to add to the drone to collect data in a specific way; for example, a camera can provide optical data and a thermal imager can provide thermal data.


    The linear distance that a drone can fly during a mission.

    Operator range

    The flight distance from a drone to an operator.

    Safe return

    A method by which a drone can safely terminate a mission and return to the ground. Operator input may or may not be required.


    Received signal strength indicator. This measurement can be used to determine signal quality health.

    RTK positioning system

    Real-time motion positioning system. The RTK positioning system uses a reference station to improve positioning accuracy in real-time.

    Semi-automatic flight

    During the flight, the operator must provide some input to complete the operation.


    Rotary or linear actuators for precise angular or linear position control. Typically, servos are used in drones to adjust the control surface, or for pneumatic drones, throttle position is used.


    The amount of overlap the dataset has on each side of adjacent flight lines.

    Spectral band

    The range of wavelengths that the sensor can detect. Sensors with multiple spectral bands are particularly useful for determining plant health.

    Telemetry equipment

    Telemetry equipment can monitor the status and health of the drone.

    Thermal resolution

    The resolution provided by a thermal sensor.


    Used to transmit commands to the drone.

    Video output resolution

    A measure of the best detail that the payload will show in the output data; the larger the number, the finer the detail.

    Vertical takeoff and landing

    Represents vertical take-off and landing, which means that drones can take off from teams without the need for a launch system.


    Program-specific locations into GPS during flight planning to enable drones to track waypoints on their own for autonomous flight.


    The distance from the wing tip to wing tip when fully assembled and ready for flight.

    BY:MMC ——www.mmcuav.com

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