Top 10 acronyms of the commercial drone market

The commercial drone world can be a linguistic jungle.
We’ve tried to decode it in 10 steps.

The commercial drone world can be a linguistic jungle.
We’ve tried to decode it in 10 steps.

Here is our pick for top 10 most important acronyms to know.
Plus a few we bet, you never heard before.


(Top ten acronyms)

10. UAV / UAS / sUAS / RPA
These are all referring to the same small Unmanned Aircraft System (or Vehicle) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft.
In short, a drone.

Or (Beyond) Visual Line of Sight.

Anyone in this industry knows this acronym, as the meaning behind it carries so much potential.
Google it, and you will find a lot of discussion pieces.

8. FAA
Surely you know the acronym.
Before you go anywhere near a UAV, you will have heard of the Federal Aviation Administration; the US department of transportation agency, which oversees civil aviation.

In the UK, substitute this for CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).

7. LiDAR
Is a surveying method, which measures distances using light.
Light Detection and Ranging is widely used, and has recently made headlines being compared to Photogrammetry.

6. GIS
The Graphical Information System stores geographical data, which can be very useful for later analysis or mapping.

5. FPV
Short for First Person View.

Though it is most commonly used in drone racing, it simply means a forward-facing camera, which allows the pilot to fly the drone, as though it was a manned aircraft.

4. ROI
Not a drone-specific term, but still one that gets thrown around enough to justify it making the list.

Return on Investment is a big buzzword in any market. For the commercial drone market specifically, it usually describes the amount of revenue/value gained from investing in commercial drones.

3. RTF
Before taking off, you better make sure that you are Ready to Fly.

Unofficially it means that your drone can physically take off.

Officially, you will come across this abbreviation places like the FAA’s B4UFly app. Here, it means the skies are clear, and you have permission to fly.

Vertical Take Off and Landing has quickly become a feature we expect in sUAV’s for commercial use.

Originally a feature in multi-rotor drones only, the absence was one of the major disadvantages of fixed-wing drones. However, most recently hybrids have been announced.

1. UTM
Perhaps the most important acronym to remember: Unmanned Traffic Management.
Three short words to describe a centralized traffic management system, for all UAV’s.

A lot of large players are working towards this goal, that will change the drone industry a large.

The ones you didn’t even know existed.

(..we had no idea either.)

  • AH
    Besides being a sound more than anything, this also means Altitude Hold, and is a specific flight-mode.

  • BEC
    A Battery Eliminator Circuit is a voltage used to provide a constant voltage to various types of equipment.

  • V-tail
    A V-tail is a type of multi-copter that has 8 motors in the shape of an x.

  • AUW
    Means all up weight, and is used (by the very enthusiastic) to describe the total weight of the vehicle, including all necessary parts.


You are now a certified DAS.
I’ll leave you to figure that one out on your own.