Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft with no pilot on board which can be controlled remotely by a pilot at a ground control station or flown autonomously through the use of a pre-programmed flight plan. UAVs can be used in a number of applications including reconnaissance and attack missions.

For an example of a military UAV, this is the Northrop Grumman X-47B with seating capacity of 0. The X-47B is a computer-controlled unmanned aircraft system that takes off, flies a preprogrammed mission, and then returns to base – all in response to mouse clicks from a mission operator. The operator actively monitors the X-47B air vehicle’s operation using simple situational awareness displays, but does not fly it via remote control, as some unmanned systems are operated. Click image to enlarge.

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In addition to the application of UAVs for military operations, they are also used in civil applications such as firefighting, surveillance of pipelines and security in general. For both military and non-military use, UAVs offer the advantage of lower cost to operate and is preferred for functions that are considered too dull, dirty or dangerous for manned aircraft.

Example of a UAV with potential for military and commercial applications

Waiting for the arrival of the Rent-A-UAV.

People may be more familiar with the term "drones" which is a UAV that was originally remotely piloted but as the technology advanced, autonomous control is increasingly being used in UAVs.

There is a growing interest by hobbyist to build and fly DIY drones. What is the difference between remote control airplanes which have been in hobby circles for quite some time and UAVs? The answer is simply in the technology sophistication which leads to the ability for "hobbyist" to construct such flying machines with ever increasing range and automation capabilities. What happens when a "hobbyist" from an enemy country asks on the Internet for help in constructing a drone?

The flight of a NitroPlanes MQ-9 Reaper

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