What are the types of UAVs?

The rapid development of UAV-related technologies, the wide variety of UAV systems, and their distinctive features have resulted in large differences in size, quality, range, flight duration, flight altitude, flight speed, and missions. Due to the diversity of drones, there are different classification methods for different considerations:

Classified by the flight platform

UAVs can be divided into fixed-wing UAVs, multi-rotor UAVs, unmanned helicopters, vertical take-off, landing fixed-wing, unmanned airships, para-wing UAVs, etc., according to the configuration of the flight platform. Now let's learn about several common types of drones.


①Multi-rotor UAV

Multi-rotor UAVs, also called multi-axis UAVs, can be subdivided into four rotors, six rotors, and eight rotors according to the number of propellers. Multi-rotor UAVs rely on the lift generated by multiple propellers to balance the gravity of the aircraft so that the aircraft can fly and control the attitude of the aircraft by changing the rotation speed of each rotor. The multi-rotor is relatively small in size, flexible and light, can take off and land vertically, hover, has low site requirements, and is favored by the general public. This type of drone is currently widely used in various social fields, such as drones for pesticides, drone logistics, drone aerial photography, drone light shows, power inspections, etc.

②Fixed-wing UAV

Fixed-wing UAVs rely on the thrust generated by the propeller or turbine engine as the power for the aircraft to fly forward. The main lift comes from the relative movement of the wings and the air. Therefore, the fixed-wing UAV must have a certain relative speed with the air to have enough lift to maintain the flight. Fixed-wing UAVs have the characteristics of fast flight speed and large carrying capacity. They are widely used in military and industrial fields and suitable for surveillance, land surveying and mapping. Fixed-wing UAVs are also the most popular models used by model aircraft players.


③Unmanned helicopter

Unmanned helicopters have the best maneuverability among all types of aircraft. Hard indicators such as load capacity, endurance, flight speed, and wind resistance are often far stronger than multi-rotor UAVs. The debugging of unmanned helicopters is much more complicated than that of multi-rotors, and the operation difficulty is much greater than that of multi-rotors. Such models are generally used in more professional fields and require extremely high control skills for pilots. Flying-Cam, the first company in the world to provide commercial aerial photography, especially favors the use of unmanned helicopters for aerial photography, classic aerial photography of films such as the "007" series, "Harry Potter" series, and "Mission Impossible" series were taken by them using an unmanned helicopter. Unmanned helicopters can complete many aerobatics in the airplane model circle, bringing people a tense and exciting viewing experience.

④Vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing UAV

The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing combine the advantages of the multi-rotor UAV and the fixed-wing UAV. The multi-rotor mode is adopted during the take-off and landing and hovering phases, and the site requirements are low. The fixed-wing mode is adopted for high-speed flight. This type of UAV is widely used in aerial surveying and mapping, geological survey, rapid transportation, and other fields.


Classified by field

Divided according to different fields of use, UAVs can be divided into three categories: military, civilian, and consumer. The performance requirements of UAVs are biased:

1) Military UAVs have higher requirements for sensitivity, flight altitude, speed, intelligence, etc., and are the most technologically advanced UAVs. Including reconnaissance, decoys, electronic countermeasures, communication relays, target drones, unmanned fighter jets, etc.

2) Civil UAVs generally have low requirements for speed, ceiling, and range but have high requirements for personnel training and overall cost. Therefore, it is necessary to form a mature industrial chain to provide the cheapest possible parts and support services. At present, the largest market for civilian drones lies in providing government public services, such as police, firefighting, meteorology, etc., which account for about 70% of the total demand. We believe that the market with the greatest potential for drones in the future may be civilian use. The new market demand may appear in agricultural plant protection, cargo speed, air wireless network, data acquisition, etc.

3) Consumer-grade UAVs generally use low-cost multi-rotor platforms for recreational purposes such as aerial photography and games.

Classified by scale

Divided by drone scale,UAVs can be divided into micro UAVs, light UAVs, small UAVs, and large UAVs. Microdrones are drones with airborne mass less than or equal to 7kg, lightweight drones with a group greater than 7kg, but less than or equal to 116, and in full-horsepower level flight, the corrected airspeed is less than 100km/h (55nmile/h), The ceiling is less than 3000m. Small drones refer to drones with an airborne mass of 5700kg or less, except for micro and light drones. Large drones refer to drones with an empty aircraft mass greater than 5700kg.

Classified by the radius of activity

Divided by activity radius, UAVs can be divided into ultra-short-range UAVs, short-range UAVs, short-range UAVs, medium-range UAVs, and long-range UAVs. The active radius of ultra-short-range UAVs is within 15km, the active radius of short-range UAVs is between 15-50km, the radius of short-range UAVs is between 50-200km, and the radius of medium-range UAVs is 200-800km. In between, the radius of the long-range drone is greater than 800km.

Classified by task height

Classified by task height, UAVs can be divided into ultra-low-altitude UAVs, low-altitude UAVs, medium-altitude UAVs, high-altitude UAVs, and ultra-high-altitude UAVs. The mission height of the ultra-low-altitude UAV is generally between 0 and loom. The mission height of low-altitude UAVs is generally between 100 and 1000m. The mission height of the hollow UAV is generally between 1000 and 7000m. The mission height of high-altitude drones is generally between 7000 and 18000m, and the mission height of ultra-high-altitude drones is generally greater than 18000m.