What is a drone? All types of UAVs explained

What are drones and how do they work?

A drone is officially known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It is an aircraft that does not require a human pilot on board in order to fly. These types of aircraft are typically controlled by remote control. Some advanced types of drones can fly autonomously. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines UAV as any uncrewed aircraft regardless of its size. 

UAVs are part of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) which may also include the control station, the software, the communication system, any payloads, launch equipment, and recovery mechanisms.

While it does not carry a pilot, drones can carry various payloads. Most drones used for recreational purposes carry miniature cameras typically used for capturing first-person perspective images or video footage. Some cameras are capable of providing live video feeds as well.

The original versions of drones were used for missions that are unsuitable or too dangerous for humans to carry out. However, modern-day types are becoming more popular outside military uses. Aside from its recreational appeal, drones are expanding to commercial, agricultural, and scientific uses. They are used in surveillance, policing, photography, videography, and even product deliveries. 

What are Other Names for Drones?

“Drone’ is the most common term for any unmanned flying craft. However, various terms are recognized by various aviation organizations in the world. Here are a few:

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) – adopted and recognized by the United States Department of Defense (DoD), the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the British Civil Aviation Authority, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVSA), and the European Union.

    1. Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle System (UAVS)
    2. Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle (RPAV)
    3. Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) – adopted and recognized by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Eurocontrol, the BeUAS, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA – Australia), and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA – New Zealand)
    4. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS)
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What Are Common Names for Drones Among Hobbyists?

Due to its popularity among hobbyists and enthusiasts, other terms have been adopted to describe various forms and sizes of the flying craft. Some are as follows: 


  • Multicopter – A generic name that refers to a drone with multiple propellers. An umbrella term for the more specific names of drones.
  • Multirotor – A term synonymous with multicopter. It also refers to drones with multiple propellers. 
  • Quadcopter – A well-known term for UAVs with four rotors. These propellers are usually positioned in a horizontal plane which is much similar to a helicopter. Other related terms are quadrocopter and quadricopter.
  • Hexacopter – A type of multicopter with six propellers set in a horizontal plane. A hexacopter can lose a propeller or an engine and it will still have the ability to maintain control for landing. Another related term is hexicopter.
  • Octocopter – A type of multicopter with eight blades that allows the aircraft to carry small to medium-sized payloads. These drones have a better range and improved stability. 

What is the Difference Between a Drone and a UAV?

The terms “drone” and “UAV” are used interchangeably these days. The former is more popular due to its use in the market, media, and hobbyists. However, it should be noted that drones can refer to any unmanned craft or vehicle such remotely controlled submarines or autonomous land vehicles. Many experts and professionals seem to agree that UAVs need to have autonomous capabilities. On the other hand, drones need not have any such functionalities. Simply, all drones are UAVs, but not all UAVs are drones.

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Different Types of Drones

There are various types of drones according to sizes, complexities, purposes, and prices.

Mini Drones

Mini drones, also known as toy drones or nano drones, are quadcopters that are inexpensive. These are mostly meant for kids or those who want to try flying drones for fun. Most mini drones have basic flying functions and cannot carry payloads.

Other required features are:

  • Manual camera settings
  • Brushless motors
  • Well stabilized Gimbal
  • Automatic flight modes

Hobby Drone

Hobby drones are mid-sized drones that are popular among beginner hobbyists who want to take flying a drone more seriously. These types of multicopters are ideal for those with some experience in handling drones. Many hobby drones come with cameras or have mechanisms for camera attachments

Other required features are:

  • GPS and returrn to home
  • Flight modes
  • 4k cameras
  • Usually under $200

Professional Drone

Professional drones are high-end aircraft with four or more propellers or rotors. Many of these types of drones are used for professional aerial photography and videography. As such, they already have built-in high-definition cameras. They often have a better range and longer flight times.

Looking for long range drones? I included my top long distance drones in an article that you need to check out.

Other required features are:

  • Manual camera settings
  • Brushless motors
  • Well stabilized Gimbal
  • Automatic flight modes

Racing Drones (FPV)

Racing drones are relatively smaller types of quadcopters. These are built to be faster and more agile than the typical hobby or professional drone. They also include a built-in camera that provides first-person view video feeds that provide a cockpit view as the craft flies through courses and obstacles.

Other required features are:

  • Speeds of up to 170km/h
  • Poweful Lipo Batteries
  • Low Latency FPV Cameras
  • First Person View Goggles

Camera Drone

Camera drones, or selfie drones, are compact quadcopters that are easy to carry and pack wherever you go. They often have built-in cameras that can take photos and videos with unique perspectives.

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What are Drones Used For?

Drones have long been researched and tested before they became popular in the market. These days, drones have taken many forms, sizes, and designs. Here are the most common uses of drones.

More and more public and private organizations are taking advantage of UAVs to conduct research, collect data, reach dangerous locations, and more. We are expected to see more drone technology combined with artificial intelligence and other IT infrastructures in a few years


  • Military Drones – One of the first applications of drones is for military purposes. These drones are equipped with weapons that are used for airstrikes, especially in inaccessible areas.
  • Monitoring Drones – Speaking of drones used in observations, monitoring drones is equipped with different devices such as various types of cameras including infrared. These drones are used to collect information such as weather and terrain. For instance, some types of drones are used to observe on-going or potential forest fires or even prevent street crimes.  In some situations, these drones are also used for reconnaissance and survey for military purposes.
  • Photography and Videography Drones – These drones are the most popular types which are used by artists, hobbyist, and content creators. These drones have replaced the typical combination of a cameraman and a helicopter as these are most cost-effective and efficient. 
  • Delivery Drones – These types of drones are the newest innovations in technology. Current studies and tests are being conducted to determine the viability of delivery drones in different areas. There are already programs that use drones to deliver relatively small payloads including DHL, Amazon, La Postale, and more. They are used to deliver packages, medicines, and other supplies to hard to reach areas like Vanuatu, Alpine villages, and other locations. 
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What Are New Trends in Drones? FPV racing

A relatively new sport is beginning to emerge among drone hobbyists and enthusiasts. FPV (first-person video) drone racing, or simply drone racing, started in Australia. Now, many drone racing events across the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia, and some parts of the Middle East are attracting thousands of players and fans worldwide. Currently, MultiGP and The Drone Racing League (DRL) are two of the largest drone racing leagues in the world with hundreds of chapters on different countries and thousands of members.

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Final Thoughts

Much like AI, drones are the future. And, they are set to be ubiquitous due to their efficiency and affordability. With the development of technology going at a rapid pace, we may even see drones that are fully independent of human control. Only the next few years which trends in drone innovations will last for a long time. 

How do you make money with your drone, though?

Okay, so you got your new and fancy drone, but how do you stand out from any dad out there who has the same drone and watched some tutorials online?

I did exactly that and barely had any success. 

But now I’m charging 5x as much as before and even have to refuse clients from time to time.

I even bought about 7 online courses… and I didn’t make much progress.

So how did I finally make it to this level?

If you want the short answer, I learned everything from this guy Alex, who’s making $200 per hour with his drone. And he’s even teaching exactly how to do that.

This is pretty much what you need to know:


1. Make sure you have a proper drone.

If you have any of the latest DJI Drones, like the Mavic Air 2, for example, you’re ready to start making money.

No need to overthink this, but if it’s any help, check this comparison of the best camera drones compared in 2020.

types of drones

2.Learn how to create the best content to stand out

You won’t stand out from the next dad who bought a DJI drone for Cristmass in the eyes of your clients if you don’t do this.

It’s WAY more important to know what you’re doing than the gear you have.

You’ll need to learn and master the following:

  • Flying your drone(to stand out from people with basic drone shots)
  • Preparing for the flight and weather in advance
  • Learn the best drone settings (you need a proper setup template)
  • Create the Video Script (it's way easier if you know what to shoot)
  • Have a set of great cinematic shots you know how to do
  • Know how to edit the video so it stands out
  • Learn how to color grade

This is why you HAVE to invest in a proper way to learn things (instead of watching tutorials here and there).

3.Find clients that pay 5x more than regular

But not so fast.

You won’t make a penny if you don’t know how to find your clients.

I have struggled finding clients even when my videos were getting pretty good.

Until I learned a few tricks and how to find and approach them so they won’t be able to say no.

And what’s best, I learned how to get the price I asked for.

How can you do the same?

I have tested quite a few courses online and watched tons of videos on youtube, but frankly, I have learned more from one single course than from everything else… and all that in like a weekend.

Made back the money from this investment in myself in a single week and then much more.


How do I learn all of this? From youtube?

You could simply go online and learn everything in terms of video from youtube, forums, facebook groups etc.

However, let me tell you, it’s the worst way to learn all of this(and the slowest).

You won’t have a Complete Step By step guide on how to do everything.

I found myself frustrated, even after I learned how to do most of the video stuff that I still lacked some knowledge and I didn’t know why my shots weren’t standing out.

I got some general promotion ideas from some articles online, but again… I didn’t have much success and was charging too little for my time.

This is exactly where I learned how to make $200 per hour with my drone (From A to Z)

This course is hold by Alex Harris, who’s an international video creator, director, and drone operator with tons of experience.

And I had a great time stealing his know-how(and greatly profited from it, lol).

I recommend you watch his video presentation bellow and check out the course sales page. It’s quite cheap, considering you’re getting 320+ minutes of everything you need to know, step by step and 80+ minutes on how to actually find the ideal clients for you.

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of DronesGator.com and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

1 Comment
  1. The term drone comes from bees and their hierarchy. They are queen worker and drone, queen is top worker has the ability to be a queen and is in her service. The drone does one thing it IS smaller than the other 2 and does the same thing all the time,like it was preprogrammed. It would seem to me that an aircraft that is unmanned and follows a routine in the service of another would be a drone example a cruise missile. If the aircraft is unmanned and can change its original mission it would not be a drone. Both cruise missile and predator would be UAVs the latter being remotely piloted and able to change missions would not be a drone. Another definition of drone would be me continuing to write or to drone on and on and on killing everyone with bordem.

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