*Updated on March 11th 2024



A device that measures acceleration or fast changes in movement. The flight controller (the drone’s central processing unit) uses an accelerometer for the UAVs for flight stabilization.

ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast)

Surveillance technology in which drones transmit their location to aircraft and ground stations, enhancing safety by making drones visible to air traffic control and manned aircraft equipped with ADS-B receivers.

AGL (Above Ground Level)

Refers to the altitude above the ground immediately under the UAV. For example, a UAV flying 100 feet above a 45-foot hill would have an AGL of 55 feet.

Airdata UAV

Platform dedicated to managing drone flight data. It provides a suite of tools designed to enhance flight safety, compliance, and maintenance tracking. Established in 2015, it offers a global service supporting drone operators across nearly 200 countries by automating the capture and analysis of flight data. This platform is used by both hobbyists and commercial fleet operators to provide insights into aircraft health, optimize flight performance, and detect early problems

Altitude Hold

A feature that allows drones to maintain a consistent altitude above ground level, using barometric pressure sensors or ultrasonic sensors to stabilize the drone at a certain height, facilitating easier control and stable video or photo capture.

AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics)

A nonprofit organization that advocates the safe operation of model aircraft, including drones. The AMA is a proponent of the National Model Aircraft Safety Code, a set of guidelines on the safe operation of sUAS that FAA encourages pilots to follow.

Anti-Collision Systems

Technologies integrated into drones to detect and avoid potential collisions with obstacles, other aircraft, or objects in the environment. Sensors assess the drone's surroundings and implement collision avoidance maneuvers, enhancing flight safety.

ATC (Air Traffic Control)

A service provided by personnel trained and certified by the FAA responsible for monitoring and controlling all air traffic within a specific area.

Autel Robotics

Autel Robotics, founded in 2014 in Shenzhen, China, is a drone manufacturer, known for its X-Star, Evo, and Dragon Fish series drones. It gained market traction, especially in the United States, where it held a 7% market share in 2021. Autel Robotics has a diverse product line catering to various users, including the ultra-light EVO Nano+ and the EVO Max intended for emergency response.

Autonomous Flight

The capability of a drone to operate and navigate without direct human input. These drones are programmed to perform specific tasks or follow predefined routes using onboard sensors and algorithms.


Battery Management System (BMS)

A technology that oversees the rechargeable battery of a drone, ensuring safety, efficiency, and longevity. It monitors the battery's state, calculates secondary data, reports that data, controls the environment, and balances the battery.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)

The operation of a drone where the pilot or operator cannot directly see the aircraft. BVLOS flights typically rely on advanced technologies such as remote sensing and satellite navigation to maintain control and safety.

Blue UAS

Initiated in 2020 by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), this is a comprehensive program aimed at evaluating and integrating commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology for the Department of Defense (DoD) use. It curates a list of commercial drones that comply with DoD policies, streamlining their procurement and deployment for defense applications.



Collision Avoidance System

System designed to prevent drones from colliding with obstacles such as buildings, trees, or other aircraft. 


The device used by the operator to control the drone's flight. Controllers can vary significantly in complexity and functionality.

COA (Certificate of Authorization)

A permit/waiver issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing a public operator to perform specific UAS operations.

Collision/obstacle Avoidance

A vision system that allows UAVs to detect obstacles in its path and avoid collisions.

Commercial Drones

A unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed for heavy use. These flying platforms have a specific purpose in mind such as for infrared inspection, package delivery, or for seach and resuce. Typical models of drones include the DJI Matrice 350 RTK and Autel EVO II Dual 640T .


DJI (Dà Jiāng Chuàngxīn – meaning 'Great Frontier Innovations')

DJI, also known as SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., is a Chinese technology company founded in 2006 by Frank Wang. It specializes in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, for aerial photography and videography. DJI is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and has become a leading name in drone technology, commanding about 76% of the global consumer drone market as of March 2021. The company's products are utilized across various sectors, including filmmaking, agriculture, conservation, and by military and police forces. DJI's product line includes drones, camera systems, gimbal stabilizers, propulsion systems, and robotics, among others


An unmanned aircraft that can fly autonomously or be controlled remotely. Drones are used for a variety of purposes, including aerial photography, surveillance, agriculture, search and rescue, and entertainment.


A cloud-based software platform that provides drone mapping solutions. Users can plan flights, capture aerial data, and analyze and share insights across various applications such as agriculture, construction, and real estate. It simplifies the process of collecting and interpreting drone data, making advanced mapping accessible to businesses of all sizes. Its integration with other platforms, including Pix4D, further extends its utility and application in the drone industry.

Dual Operator Control

A feature that allows two operators to control a single drone simultaneously; one operator controls the flight of the drone, while the other operates the camera and sensors. This setup is especially useful in complex filming and industrial inspection scenarios, providing greater precision and safety.

Dynamic Return to Home (RTH)

An advanced feature where a drone can automatically return to its launch point or to the operator's location if it loses connection with the controller or if the battery reaches a critically low level. Unlike basic RTH, dynamic RTH adjusts the return path in real-time to avoid obstacles and ensure a safe landing.



For drones, this is the length of time it can remain in the air on a single battery charge or fuel load. High endurance is critical for long-duration tasks like surveillance and large area mapping.

ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)

An electronic circuit used to vary the speed of an electric motor in a drone. It plays a crucial role in controlling the direction and speed of the drone's propellers.

Elevation Mapping

The process of creating detailed maps that show variations in elevation of a particular area. This is especially useful in agriculture, construction, and surveying for understanding terrain.


A method of securing drone communication channels from unauthorized access. Encryption protects the integrity and privacy of data transmitted between the drone and the controller.

Exclusion Zone

A designated area where drone flights are restricted or forbidden, typically around airports, military bases, or sensitive infrastructures for safety and security reasons.



FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)

An agency under the US Department of Transportation that regulates and oversees all aspects of civil aviation. Its primary objective is to ensure civil aviation safety.


A pre-programmed procedure that a drone follows in case of a system failure or signal loss, such as returning to a home point or landing immediately to ensure safety.

Field of View (FOV)

Describes the viewing angle from the camera of the drone.


The software embedded in the drones flight controller, batteries, or remote controller. Updates to the firmware are often made available by manufacturers to fix bugs, introduce new features, improve existing features, and protect from security vulnerabilities.

Fixed wing drones

UAVs that consist of a rigid wing that generates lift via aerofoil and typically a small push propeller. Fixed wing drones can travel greater distances with less power due to the wing.

Flight Controller

The central component of a drone that that receives the inputs from the sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, vision sensors, ultrasonic sensors) and remote controller of the drone which then sends inputs to the electronic speed controls and motors about how the drone should move.

Follow Me Mode

An autonomous flight mode where a drone follows a moving object or person, often used in action sports filming or to capture dynamic video shots without manual control.

FPV (First-Person View)

A method used to control a drone from the pilot's perspective, as if they were onboard. It involves live streaming the video from a camera on the drone to a screen, monitor, or goggles worn by the pilot.




A pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object (typically a camera in drones) about a single axis. It can stabilize the camera to keep it level despite the movement of the drone.


A virtual geographic boundary, defined by GPS or RFID technology, that enables software to trigger a response when a drone enters or leaves a particular area. It's used for safety and regulatory compliance.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that provides location and timing information to users anywhere on or near the Earth. Drones often rely on GPS for precise positioning and navigation during flight.

Ground Station

The control center for drone operations, which can be a physical location or software that provides telemetry and allows the operator to control the drone remotely.




The ability of a drone to remain in a fixed position in the air without moving forward or backward, achieved through precise control of its flight dynamics.

Headless Mode

A feature on some drones that simplifies steering by ensuring that the drone moves in relation to the controller's direction rather than its own front and back.

Height Hold

A flight mode that allows a drone to maintain a consistent altitude, utilizing sensors such as barometers and ultrasonic altimeters.

Home Point

The location to which a drone is programmed to return if it loses connection with the controller or when the return to home (RTH) function is activated.


The ability to change a critical component of a drone (such as batteries or storage media) without shutting down the system, allowing for extended operational time and flexibility.


IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)

A device used to measure the drone's velocity, orientation, and gravitational forces, utilizing a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes. Essential for flight stability and navigation.

IP Rating (Ingress Protection Rating)

A standard that defines the levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies and moisture. It's important for drones used in adverse weather conditions.

IR Lock

technology that allows drones to lock onto a specific infrared source, used in search and rescue operations to find heat signatures of people or animals.

ISO (for Drone Cameras)

ISO in photography refers to the camera's sensitivity to light, impacting the brightness of photos. Higher ISO settings make images brighter, useful in darker environments, but can introduce grain or noise, affecting image quality. Common ISO values range from 100 (low) to 6400 (high), with the base ISO providing the highest image quality with minimal noise. Adjusting ISO is essential for achieving desired exposure, especially in varying light conditions​.

While "ISO" stands for the International Organization for Standardization, it doesn't directly refer the organization itself. Its from the combination of two film sensitivity standards (ASA and DIN) into one ISO standard in 1974, which was later adapted for digital photography to maintain similar brightness levels as film. This standardization helps ensure consistency across different cameras and settings.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Autonomous flight features programmed into drones, allowing them to perform complex maneuvers and tasks without manual input, such as following waypoints, orbiting an object, or tracking moving subjects.

Kinematic GPS

High-precision satellite navigation technique that uses multiple GPS receivers to measure the relative position with much greater accuracy than standard GPS. It's crucial for applications requiring precise location data, such as surveying and mapping drones.


LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)

A remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with laser light and analyzing the reflected light. In the drone industry, LiDAR is used for creating high-resolution maps, surveying landscapes, and in autonomous navigation systems for obstacle detection and avoidance.

Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Batteries

A type of rechargeable battery that offers high energy density and lightweight characteristics, making them ideal for powering drones. LiPo batteries are known for their ability to deliver high current for rapid movements and long flight times.

Load Factor

The ratio of the lifting force generated by the drone to its weight. It's crucial in the design and operation of drones, influencing their stability, maneuverability, and payload capacity. A higher load factor indicates the drone can carry more weight or withstand stronger aerodynamic forces during flight.




Microdrones are a class of small drones, often weighing less than a few pounds and capable of operating in confined spaces. They are used for various applications, including surveillance, photography, and hobbyist activities. Their compact size allows them to be highly maneuverable and less obtrusive than larger drone models.

Modes (S, P and A)

- S Mode

Also known as Sports Mode, the S Mode allows the DJI drone to fly and maneuver twice as fast (about 40 mph to 65 mph)

- P Mode

This is the standard flight mode for most pilots. In the P Mode, all sensors on the drone are active including GPS and infrared sensors. This allows precise hovering of the drone, even if the user stops controlling it with the remote controller.

- A Mode

The A Mode or Atti Mode is short for Attitude Mode, where the drone will maintain a certain altitude but not position. This allows the drone to remain at the same height but drift around.


Multirotor drones are aircraft with multiple rotors, typically four (quadcopters), six (hexacopters), or eight (octocopters). These drones are known for their stability, maneuverability, and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities. Multirotor drones are widely used for photography, surveying, and recreational purposes.

Multispectral Imaging

Capturing images at different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum, including both visible and invisible light (such as infrared). In drones, multispectral cameras are used for agricultural monitoring, environmental observation, and land management, providing valuable data on crop health, water distribution, and more.

Mission Planner

Software used for planning, executing, and monitoring drone missions. It allows operators to define waypoints, set flight paths, and monitor real-time data during the flight. Mission Planner software is essential for complex operations, ensuring drones execute their tasks efficiently and safely, particularly in commercial and scientific applications.


Near Real-Time (NRT) Data Transmission

The capability of drones to send data back to the operator or a processing center with minimal delay. This is crucial for applications requiring immediate information, such as search and rescue operations, live event coverage, and surveillance.

No-Fly Zone

An area where drone flights are restricted or prohibited. These zones are typically established around airports, government buildings, and sensitive infrastructure to ensure safety and security. Drone operators must be aware of and comply with no-fly zone regulations to avoid penalties and ensure the safety of others.

Noise Signature

The sound profile a drone creates during flight. This includes the pitch, volume, and frequency of the noise produced by the drone's motors and rotors. Noise signatures are important considerations in drone design, especially for operations in populated or noise-sensitive areas.

Nominal Range

The maximum distance it can travel from the controller while maintaining effective communication and control. Factors affecting it include its transmission technology, environmental conditions, and any potential interference. Understanding a drone's nominal range is crucial for planning flights and ensuring the drone does not go beyond its control limits.

NOTAM (Notice to Airmen)

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is a notice given to warn aircraft or UAS pilots of any possible hazards or flight restrictions along a flight route or specific location.



Obstacle Avoidance System

The system used by drones to detect and navigate around objects in their flight path. This feature is essential for safe operation, especially in complex environments or when the drone is flying autonomously. It utilizes sensors such as lidar, radar, sonar, or optical cameras to perceive obstacles and software algorithms to safely navigate around them.


A type of multirotor drone that has eight rotors. This configuration offers increased lifting capacity, stability, and redundancy, making octocopters suitable for professional applications, including aerial photography, surveillance, and cargo delivery. The additional rotors provide a safety margin; if one motor fails, the drone can still land safely.

Optical Flow

Technology used in navigation to determine the drone's movement relative to the ground. By analyzing the motion of patterns on the ground through a downward-facing camera, drones can maintain a stable hover without GPS, estimate their speed, and detect obstacles. Optical flow is particularly useful in indoor environments or areas where GPS is unreliable.


A detailed, accurate photo representation of an area, created by stitching together a series of individual photos taken from a drone. These images are corrected for geometric distortions, resulting in a uniform scale. Orthomosaics are used in surveying, mapping, and agricultural applications to provide a detailed overview of large areas.

Over-the-Horizon (OTH)

Drone operations where the drone flies beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator. OTH operations require advanced communication technologies, such as satellite links, to maintain control and monitor the drone's systems. These operations are beneficial for long-range tasks, including environmental monitoring, search and rescue missions, and infrastructure inspection.


Part 107

These are commercial drone operator regulations created by the Federal Aviation Administration to define restrictions and safety standards for commercial drone flights.


Any weight or equipment that a drone is carrying, which is not required for flight but is essential for the mission's objectives. This can include cameras, sensors, cargo, or any other equipment depending on the drone's application. The payload capacity is a critical specification as it affects the drone's flight time and maneuverability.


A method of surveying and mapping through stitching photographs together to make one large image. It used to create maps and 3D models from aerial photographs. 

Pilot in Command (PIC)

The individual responsible for the operation and safety of the drone during flight time. The PIC must ensure the drone is operated within legal and safety guidelines, making decisions about the flight based on weather, airspace restrictions, and the condition of the drone. Training is available for this.


The angle of the drone's forward and backward tilt. Controlling the pitch angle is essential as tilting forward or backward will cause the drone to move in that direction. Adjusting the pitch is one of the primary ways a pilot controls a drone's movement during flight.

Pix4D (The Brand)

A Swiss company, founded in 2011, known for its advanced photogrammetry software technology. It specializes in transforming images taken from drones, phones, or other cameras into accurate 3D maps and models. Pix4D offers a range of software solutions tailored to different industries including mapping and industry-specific missions, and has over 55,000 active users ​​​​​​.

Propeller Guard

The protective cage or ring that surrounds the propellers of a drone. The main purpose of propeller guards is to prevent the propellers from coming into contact with objects, animals, or people, thereby reducing the risk of damage or injury. Propeller guards are particularly recommended for new pilots and when flying in confined spaces or near obstacles.

Drone Pitch, Roll and YawDrone Pitch, Roll and Yaw



A type of drone characterized by its four rotors. This design offers stability, maneuverability, and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities, making it one of the most popular configurations for consumer, hobbyist, and commercial drones. Quadcopters are used in a wide range of applications, from aerial photography to inspection services.

Quality of Service (QoS)

The performance level of the communication link between the drone and its control system. QoS is critical in ensuring reliable and uninterrupted control and data transmission, especially in applications requiring real-time data or video streaming. Factors affecting QoS include signal strength, interference, and bandwidth.

Quick Release Propellers

Propellers designed for  easy and fast attachment or removal from the drone's motors without the need for tools. This feature is particularly useful for rapid deployment and transportation, as well as for replacing damaged propellers in the field. 


Radio Frequency (RF)

The electromagnetic wave frequencies that lie in the range extending from around 20 kHz to 300 GHz.  RF is crucial for communication between the drone and the remote controller. It enables the transmission of commands to the drone and the reception of data from it, including live video feeds.


The maximum distance it can operate away from its controller while maintaining effective communication. This distance can vary significantly depending on the drone's design, the technology used for communication, and environmental factors such as obstacles and interference. The range is a critical factor for operations requiring long-distance flight or remote areas exploration.

Remote ID

The regulatory requirement and feature for drones to broadcast identification and location information while in flight. This allows authorities to track and monitor drone activity for safety and security purposes.

Return to Home (RTH)

A safety feature found in many drones that automatically directs the drone to return to its takeoff point or to a predefined home location. This feature can be manually activated by the pilot or automatically triggered by the drone in case of low battery, loss of signal, or other emergency situations, ensuring the drone's safe recovery.


A rotating part of the drone that includes the motor and the propeller. It plays a critical role in the drone's ability to lift off, hover, and maneuver through the air. Drones can have multiple rotors, with configurations including quadcopters (four rotors), hexacopters (six rotors), and octocopters (eight rotors), each offering different levels of stability, payload capacity, and redundancy.

RTK (Real-Time Kinematic)

A  satellite navigation technique used to enhance the precision of position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems (like GPS). This technique uses a fixed base station that broadcasts differential corrections to the drone's receiver, enabling it to achieve centimeter-level accuracy. 



A group of drones that work together autonomously to achieve a common goal. Swarm technology is used in various applications such as search and rescue, surveillance, and agricultural monitoring.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

The measure of signal strength relative to background noise. A higher SNR indicates a clearer signal, which is crucial for reliable control and data transmission between the drone and its controller, especially in environments with high electromagnetic interference or at long distances.

Surveying Drones

Specialized UAVs equipped with sensors and cameras to capture data for mapping and surveying lands. They are used in various fields such as agriculture, construction, and geology to collect high-resolution images, conduct topographic surveys, and generate 3D models of the terrain. These drones offer a cost-effective, accurate, and efficient alternative to traditional surveying methods.



Teledyne FLIR

A subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies, specializes in the development and manufacturing of advanced sensing technologies, including thermal imaging systems, visible-light imaging, video analytics, and various diagnostic and threat detection tools – as well as the SIRAS drone.


A two-way digital data stream between the UAV and a ground station that is used to communicate flight data and instructions to control the UAV.

TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction)

A temporary notice of restriction on a specific area of airspace because of the presence of government VIPs, special events, natural disasters, and other unusual occurrences.

Thermal Imaging

A technique used to visualize the heat present in objects, typically through the use of a thermal camera mounted on a drone. This technology detects infrared radiation and creates images based on temperature differences. It is widely used in various applications, including search and rescue, surveillance, and agricultural inspection, to identify heat signatures not visible to the naked eye.


The force generated by the drone's motors and propellers that allows it to lift off the ground and maneuver in the air. The amount of thrust produced must exceed the weight of the drone for it to ascend. Adjusting the thrust affects the drone's vertical speed and overall agility.


A handheld device used by the drone operator to control the drone. It sends commands to the drone, such as direction, speed, and altitude adjustments, typically using radio frequency (RF) signals. The transmitter is a critical component of the drone's remote control system, allowing the pilot to navigate the drone from a distance.


Adjustments made to the control surfaces or settings of a drone to ensure stable and level flight. Trimming compensates for any imbalances or tendencies of the drone to drift in a particular direction when it should be hovering or flying straight. Proper trimming is essential for maintaining control and stability during flight.



UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System)

Unmanned aircraft, such as drones, controlled by an operator on the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses the term UAS to reflect the fact that these systems also includes other elements aside from the actual air vehicles.


UAS (2.4 GHz / 5.8 GHz Drone Frequency )

Drone remote controllers typically switch between these frequencies to provide the strongest signal with the drone and camera system. The primary differences between the two frequencies are the distance and speed. The 2.4 GHz band provides a longer transmission range but at slower speeds. The 5 GHz band provides less range but transmits data at faster speeds. The combination of these two frequencies give drones and remote controllers the power to transmit information quickly even at far distances.



Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)

The requirement for drone operators to maintain direct visual contact with their aircraft during flight. This ensures that operators can monitor the drone's position and surroundings to prevent collisions and ensure safety.

VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing)

Term used to describe drones capable of taking off, landing, and hovering in a vertical position. VTOL technology allows drones to operate in tight spaces or areas where conventional runway takeoffs and landings are not possible. 


WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System)

A system designed to improve the accuracy, integrity, and availability of GPS signals. It provides enhanced navigational support to aircraft, including drones, by correcting GPS signal errors caused by ionospheric disturbances, timing, and satellite orbit errors. WAAS is particularly valuable in precision navigation and landing operations.


A waypoint is a specific geographical location, defined by coordinates, that a drone is programmed to fly to as part of a predetermined flight path. Waypoints are used in mission planning to automate drone flights, allowing for complex flight patterns and precise aerial surveys or inspections.




X-Radar, specifically in the X-band frequency range (8-12 GHz), is iused in various applications including drones, for its superior target resolution and ability to detect smaller objects due to its sensitivity and shorter wavelength. This technology finds extensive use in both civilian and military settings, with applications ranging from weather monitoring and air traffic control to maritime vessel traffic control, defense tracking, and vehicle speed detection for law enforcement.

XML Telemetry

XML Telemetry in the context of drone technology refers to the application of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) formats for the efficient and structured transmission of data between drones and their controlling systems or ground stations. This type of telemetry is vital for capturing, organizing, and communicating a wide range of data, from flight parameters to sensor readings




The rotation of a drone around its vertical axis. It is one of the primary flight control axes, alongside roll and pitch, that determines the drone's orientation and direction. Adjusting the yaw allows the drone to turn left or right. This movement is crucial for navigating and stabilizing the drone during flight for precise positioning and maneuverability.

Yield (Battery)

The amount of operational flight time a drone can achieve on a single battery charge. It is a critical factor in mission planning, especially for applications requiring prolonged aerial surveillance, photography, or mapping. The yield is influenced by the battery's capacity (measured in milliampere-hours, mAh), the drone's weight, and the efficiency of its power systems.

Yield Mapping

An agricultural application of drones, involving the collection and analysis of data to map variability in crop yield across different sections of a farm. Drones equipped with multispectral or thermal cameras can gather detailed information on plant health, moisture levels, and other indicators that affect yield. This technology enables farmers to optimize their field operations, such as fertilization and irrigation, based on precise spatial information, leading to improved crop management and productivity.



Zero Visibility Operations (Feature)

The capability of drones to operate in conditions where human pilots would have no visual reference, such as in thick fog, heavy rain, or at night. Its supported by advanced navigation and sensory technologies, such as GPS, LiDAR, or radar, allowing drones to perform tasks in conditions that would ground traditional aircraft. 

Zone of Exclusion

Another name for No-Fly Zone. (see above)

Zoom Lens

A Zoom Lens on a drone camera allows the operator to change the focal length and angle of view from a remote location, enabling the capture of images or video at varying levels of zoom without changing the drone's position. High-quality zoom lenses can significantly enhance the flexibility and usefulness of drones in professional photography and videography, search and rescue, and many other applications.