top of page

Urban Air Mobility Glossary

Our UAM Glossary is a collaborative effort from many industry experts.

If you have suggestions of changes or new terms to be added,

please email us.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is any flying machine operated without a human pilot on board. UAVs are the key component of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).


These UAVs may be recoverable or expendable, and can also carry a range of military and civilian payloads. 


UAVs are operational under several degrees of autonomy, under remote piloting by human operators, either through visual line of sight or from further afield via remote cameras and sensors; they can also be operated on autopilot.


UAVs are widely used in military applications for jobs that are more difficult or risky for human operations.

Common Misconceptions with Autonomous Aerial Vehicles 


Fully autonomous drones (AAVs) operate without any human interference. Their autonomy refers to them being able to conduct various functions such as take off, in-flight operations, landing and manoeuvring, independently. 


The term ‘autonomous drones’ is often used incorrectly in the place of UAV. Although UAVs can operate with a certain degree of autonomy, they are supported by humans performing or monitoring operations somewhere on the loop. There are 5 levels of autonomy, explained in the first reference that can be found below.

Source and suggested reading :

  1. The Challenges to Developing Fully Autonomous Drone Technology - ANSYS

  2. This New 80-Foot Drone Is Now the World’s Largest Unmanned Aircraft - Robb Report

  3. Unmanned aerial vehicles: The force multiplier of the 1990s. Airpower Journal, 5(1), 41-55 - Tice, B. P. (1991).

  4. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: The Force Multiplier Of The 1990s. Asian Defence Journal, 36-39 - Sengupta, P. K. (1998).

  5. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - Capt Brian P. Tice, USAF

  6. An innovative tri-rotor drone and associated distributed aerial drone swarm control. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 103, 162-174Hu, J., & Lanzon, A. (2018).

bottom of page