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What’s the Difference Between Drones, UAVs and UAS?


When we think of drones, we think of flying cameras or stealthy military equipment. But drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can do much more than just taking drool-worthy scenic shots for movies and vlogs or performing top-secret missions. Today, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have found applications in various industries such as farming, security, and energy sectors. In an industry where the terms UAVs, drones, and UASs are used interchangeably, it is easy to get confused. In this blog, we break down the difference between Drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to make a clear distinction between the three. Read on!


Drones are any unmanned vehicle that can travel autonomously in air, sea, or land. Essentially, the term encompasses any vehicles that can be controlled remotely and can navigate autonomously. Aerial drones are either fixed-wing type models or multicopter models, although the latter one is the most popular type of aerial drone in the market.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs are aircraft that can fly remotely or autonomously. UAVs come equipped with tech such as cameras, sensors, and munitions and also go by the name Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). Apart from being used in military applications, UAVs are also used in commercial or civilian applications.

UAVs are categorized under two types

  1. As aircraft suitable for hard-to-reach places and detailed inspection work -these are also called vertical take-off and landing systems.
  2. As unmanned fixed-wing aircraft primarily used for aerial mapping and topographical modeling.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

An Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) includes a GPS module, ground control module, transmission systems, camera, software, and the person on the ground controlling the drone. Therefore, while UAVs and drones are a part of the UASthe UAS itself is a complete ecosystem.

An example of a UAS in action is the monitoring of construction activities using UAVs. It can include visual confirmation of progress, structural inspections, regulatory compliance checks, safety compliance, and much more. The UAV can monitor and review the construction progress with sensors and cameras provide reports for critical information such as thermal loss, roof inspection, façade review, and disaster evaluation.

Advantages of using a UAS

  • Cost-effectiveness: UAS can gather data at exponential speed than conventional methods, which helps surveyors complete their jobs in shorter amounts of time.
  • Safety: With UAS, people can avoid going into areas that may be hazardous for humans, such as very remote or hazardous pipelines and mines.
  • Speed: UAS relay information and results within a short timeframe.
  • Accuracy: With cutting edge sensors and cameras, UAS can obtain highly detailed data.
  • Unhinged: Unmanned Aerial Systems can fly and collect information during any weather condition such as rain, cloud, fog, and darkness.

Applications of UAS 

  • It can provide mission details and schedules, process data, and alert a human operator if intervention is required within the system.
  • It can obtain access to inaccessible infrastructures such as the exterior of towers and tall buildings.
  • It can survey large areas and can produce detailed high-resolution maps with GPS measurements.
  • It can provide aerial video and imagery along with multispectral data.

The applications of UAVs and UAS are far-reaching across various types of industries. The industry has grown beyond military applications and is extensively using UAS for business and consumer use. Therefore, it is essential to clearly understand the distinction between drones, UAVs, and UAS to avoid confusion in technical issues, laws, and usage restrictions.

uas drones
CityBlue Technologies partners with industry-leading companies to offer the latest drone technology. Our team of certified FAA pilots provide a wide range of drone services to fit any project need and budget. We deliver quality solutions with cutting edge technology to put you on the forefront of leveraging drones. Check out our range of drone services here.


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