A-Z of UAV Terminology



A device that measures the acceleration of the drone as it moves forward in one direction. Also utilised in the stabilising of quadcopters.

Aerial Photography

Captures video and photographic images from a built-in or mounted camera on UAV.


Altitude Above Ground Level is the consistent height of the UAV. It refers to the underlying ground as opposed to sea level.

Altitude Hold function

Requires an onboard barometer, altitude hold function allows the UAV pilot to hover the device and keep it relatively stationary at a certain altitude in order to take still photography.


Stands for almost ready to fly, i.e. a UAV that still requires some assembly after purchase.


Describes the capability of a UAV to fly following pre-set GPS coordinates without real-time control by a person.

Autonomous Flight

Refers to the flight of UAVs that do not use radio control from the ground, but an onboard GPS system will direct them.


Refers to the potential plane or direction along which a drone may fly. For example, the majority of quadcopters have a minimum of four-axis controls, while a helicopter manoeuvres around three axes of flight.


Balance Battery Charger

A Balance Battery Charger is a LiPo (A lithium polymer) compatible charger which employs smart technology in the charging and balancing of multiple cells which have a very specific voltage range.

Barometric Pressure Sensor

A device which uses barometric measurements to calculate UAV altitude and assists in the in the measurement of height above ground level.


The process of communication between the transmitter (remote control) and the UAV.


Refers to Bind-N-Fly products that you can purchase with every component required for flight apart from the transmitter. It allows the user to employ the transmitter of their choice and bind it to the receiver.

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors are considered to be very efficient and durable and involve magnets which rotate about a fixed armature, which eradicates issues linked with connecting current concerning a moving part.


Refers to a DIY home-built drone rather than shop bought.


Refers to times when, during flight, and UAV passes beyond the visual line of sight.



The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the London-based statutory corporation overseeing and regulating all aspects of civil aviation in the UK, including the commercial flight of UAVs. https://www.caa.co.uk/home/

Camera gimbal

A gimbal is specialised camera mount used on drones that allow tilt and swerve that is strong enough to accommodate DSLRs and allows for stabilised and smooth images during flight.

Commercial Flight

Commercial flight refers to the flying of UAVs to make money and requires a licence.


Is the handheld remote control, also referred to as a transmitter, used by the pilot to control the drone.



An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of autonomous or remote controlled flight.



Electronic Speed Control is the device used for controlling the UAV’s motor, acting as a connection between the main battery and the RC receiver. It normally comprises a Battery Elimination Circuit (BEC) to distribute the power for the onboard electronics.



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a United States Department of Transportation Agency, which oversees and regulates all the aspects of civil aviation in the USA.


First Person View or FPV (also known and Remote Person View) is the method by which UAV operators view real-time footage captured from the drone camera during flight. The video streaming is achieved either through a link-up with a smartphone or tablet or with the use of a special pair of goggles.


Firmware is simply software that into embedded into a piece of hardware. In the case of UAVs, it is software that determines the actions of the autopilot. Its memory state is said to be non-volatile even in a situation when the power is detached.

Flight Control System

It is an interconnected system of controls allowing the pilot to fly the multi-rotor devices.

Fly Away

Refer to a situation when a UAV is unintentionally flown outside of operational boundaries resulting in loss of control and or a breakdown of the onboard systems.

Fly-Away Protection System

Is a system enabling the UAV to return safely to the ground, or keep it within the planned operational area, in situations when the connection between the aircraft and the pilot is lost.



GoPro are high-definition brand named video recording devices ideal for use in video photography in extreme-action situations. They are waterproof, lightweight, compact and durable. Along with various attachments, they are wearable or vehicle mounted.


Refers to Global Positioning System which is to locate the position of any object in relation to a global spatial plane. GPS can be used to track the movements of or to control, UAVs.


Ground Control Station or GCS is software that operates from a computer on the ground. A GCS receives telemetry information to report on flight status and to transmit instructions to UAVs in flight.


A gyroscope or gyro is the device that keeps the aircraft balanced in terms of pitch, roll, and yaw to maintain the orientation of a drone during flight. It also measures the rate of rotation of the drone.



A hexacopter is a multi-rotor aircraft comprising six rotors which enable controlled landings in the event of the loss of a single engine.

Hobby Grade

Refers to UAVs that are considered higher than toy grade and offer good operation and reliability at a very reasonable price.

Headless Mode

When a UAV is in the headless mode, it will follow your stick movements regardless of the orientation of the craft, i.e. where the nose points.



IMU stands for Inertial Measurement Unit which is a controller that combines a gyro and an accelerometer, to aid stabilisation and orientation of a copter.


Inertial Navigation System calculates position based on the reading of initial GPS and then of motion and speed by a sensor reading that employs dead reckoning. It is very useful in a situation when the GPS has temporarily lost its signal strength and is unobtainable.


IOC stands for Intelligent orientation control which assists aircraft orientation regardless of where the nose points.


Line of Sight

LOS refers to the ability to view and aircraft with the naked eye from your operating position. They suggest to keep the drone within the line of sight.


Stands for Lithium Polymer, a type of battery preferred by most drone manufacturers due to its lightweight and maximised charge power and capacity. Always take care not to overcharge the battery or damage the flexible polymer case as it can result in a fire.


Mobius Camera

Popular lightweight camera model developed for use with drones, which shoots HD video and can capture intervalometer (time lapse) photos.


Refers to the modifications, or mods, made by drone enthusiasts to their aircraft to improve functionality.


Is the generic term that refers to UAVs with multiple horizontal rotors such as tricopters, quadcopters, hexacopters etc.



It is a type of flight controller (used in DJI Phantom Drones) comprising an accelerometer, main control chip, a barometric altimeter and a gyroscope.

No Fly Zone

Refers to regions where the flying of drones is severely restricted usually to prevent interference with other aircraft or the capturing of sensitive information.



And octocopter is a UAV comprising eight horizontal rotors.


Stands for On Screen Display.



Payload describes the sum of additional weight an aircraft is capable of carrying over and above its own weight including batteries.


Describes the rotation of the aircraft nose up nose down along the axis running from wing to wing.

Pre-Flight Planning

Refers to the pre-flight actions of the crew to ensure a safe flight in accordance with applicable regulations and standards, such as route planning, weather and terrain checks, equipment configuration, airspace, support personnel, and communications.


The Power Distribution Board or PDB aids the distribution of power in multicopters to each motor to provide appropriate stabilisation of the device.



Unmanned Aerial Vehicle which typically comprises four rotors, located in a square arrangement for controlled flight.



RC is the abbreviation for Radio Controlled which refers to the control of a UAV from a wireless handheld device or transmitter using radio waves.


Roll describes the rotational movement of an aircraft along the axis running from nose to tail.


RTF refers to UAVs that are Read to Fly straight out of the box. In some cases, you’ll still need to install batteries.


Sense and Avoid

Sense and Avoid is the functionality in drones to avoid collision and self-separate.


Also known as a servomechanism or servomotor that is inside aerial vehicles for a variety of functions such as adjustment of wing flaps and pan cameras which you can monitor from the ground.


Is the abbreviation for Small Unmanned Aircraft System



The throttle is the device that controls the RPM or the pace of electric motors.

Toy grade

A term that refers to the basic level of drones, which are low in price and use relatively cheap components. They are a good introduction to UAVS for beginners, as they offer fun at a low price before moving up to hobby grade.


A term for transmit or transmitter.



Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, such as Quadcopters and Drones, capable of flight without a pilot onboard.

Ultrasonic sensor

A sensor that utilises the ultrasound wavelength as a means of communication with the transmitter. In UAVs, ultrasonic sensors are when within a few meters of the ground to measure the distance to the earth by bouncing sound waves back and forth.


Visual Observer

A visual observer is the member of the crew who aids the UAV pilot in collision avoidance with such things as other airborne objects and wildlife, traffic, obstructions, clouds and terrain.


An abbreviation for Visual Line of Sight which refers to the human eye view of the aircraft from the ground.



Waypoints are coordinates that describe a point in space and you can use to plan autonomous missions for UAVs.



Describes the rotation of a copter around its centre axis on a level plane.

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