18 Drone Terms You Should Know


As with any industry or hobby, the drone world has a language of its own. And to be fully integrated, you will want to walk the walk and talk the talk. Below is a list of the most used drone lingo and abbreviations that you should show.

Let’s start with the basics:

    UAV: Unmanned aerial vehicle
    UAS: Unmanned aircraft system
    SUAS: Small Unmanned Aircraft System
    RPAS: Remotely Piloted Aerial System

  2. Quadcopter, Multicopter, Hexicopter, Octocopters
    Quadcopter: Drone with 4 rotors positioned on a horizontal plane like a helicopter.
    Multicopter: Generic name for a drone with multiple propellers.
    Hexicopter: Multi-rotor aircraft having six rotors.
    Octocopters: Drone with eight blades.

    See, already there are a lot of interchangeable terms in the drone world!

  3. Ready-To-Fly (RTF)
    A drone that requires little to no assembly and is ready-to-fly straight out of the box.

  4. Almost-Ready-To-Fly (ARTF or almost known as, ARF)
    Drones 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.

  5. Bind-N-Fly (BNF)
    Bind-N-Fly models are basically RTF drones with a receiver, but not a radio controller – you must purchase these separately.

  6. First-Person View (FPV)
    The video feed direct from the camera of a drone.

  7. Return-To-Home (RTH)
    A safety feature that allows the drone to autonomously fly back to the pilot’s location and/or starting point.

  8. Gimbal
    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!).

  9. Headless Mode
    For 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.

  10. Follow Me
    Feature that allows the drone to automatically follow a subject – typically using a GPS signal from a mobile device, remote control or beacon.

  11. Yaw
    If looking down on a drone from above, yaw refers to the movement of the drone clockwise/counterclockwise.

  12. Pitch
    Describes the movement up and down along the vertical axis from the front to the back of the drone.

  13. Roll
    Rotation of the aircraft from front to back on a copter. In simpler terms, the movement of the drone forward, backward, left and right along a horizontal axis.

  14. Autonomous Flight
    Drones that are managed by internal programming that have instructions on where to fly – typically guided by an onboard GPS system.

  15. BVLOS
    Beyond visual line of sight.

  16. LiPo
    Lithium Polymer – the type of battery favored by most drone manufacturers.

  17. Part 107
    Required in the United Stated when operating a drone for commercial purposes. Administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

  18. Payload
    Amount of additional weight the drone can lift in addition to its own weight and batteries. If you were to attach a camera to your drone – the combined weight is the payload.

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