Uncrewed vehicle

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Various uncrewed vehicles Unmanned Vehicles - the increasing challenge of autonomy1..tiff
Various uncrewed vehicles

An uncrewed vehicle or unmanned vehicle is a vehicle without a person on board. Uncrewed vehicles can either be remote controlled or remote guided vehicles, or they can be autonomous vehicles which are capable of sensing their environment and navigating on their own.



There are different types of uncrewed vehicles: [1]

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Unmanned aerial vehicle Aircraft without a human pilot aboard

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or uncrewed aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which include additionally a ground-based controller and a system of communications with the UAV. The flight of UAVs may operate under remote control by a human operator ― remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) ― or with various degrees of autonomy, such as autopilot assistance, up to fully autonomous aircraft that does not allow human intervention.

Unmanned combat aerial vehicle Unmanned aerial vehicle that is usually armed

An unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone or battlefield UAV, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance and carries aircraft ordnance such as missiles, ATGMs, and/or bombs in hardpoints for drone strikes. These drones are usually under real-time human control, with varying levels of autonomy. Unlike unmanned reconnaissance aerial vehicles, UCAVs are used for both drone strikes and battlefield intelligence.

Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.

Micro air vehicle

A micro air vehicle (MAV), or micro aerial vehicle, is a class of miniature UAVs that has a size restriction and may be autonomous. Modern craft can be as small as 5 centimeters. Development is driven by commercial, research, government, and military purposes; with insect-sized aircraft reportedly expected in the future. The small craft allows remote observation of hazardous environments inaccessible to ground vehicles. MAVs have been built for hobby purposes, such as aerial robotics contests and aerial photography.

Remote control vehicle Type of vehicle

A remote control vehicle is defined as any vehicle that is teleoperated by a means that does not restrict its motion with an origin external to the device. This is often a radio control device, cable between control and vehicle, or an infrared controller. Remote control system allows to control the distant object with the use of communicaiton medias.

Autonomous underwater vehicle Unmanned underwater vehicle with autonomous guidance system

An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is a robot that travels underwater without requiring input from an operator. AUVs constitute part of a larger group of undersea systems known as unmanned underwater vehicles, a classification that includes non-autonomous remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) – controlled and powered from the surface by an operator/pilot via an umbilical or using remote control. In military applications an AUV is more often referred to as an unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV). Underwater gliders are a subclass of AUVs.

Unmanned ground vehicle Type of vehicle

An unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is a vehicle that operates while in contact with the ground and without an onboard human presence. UGVs can be used for many applications where it may be inconvenient, dangerous, or impossible to have a human operator present. Generally, the vehicle will have a set of sensors to observe the environment, and will either autonomously make decisions about its behavior or pass the information to a human operator at a different location who will control the vehicle through teleoperation.

History of unmanned aerial vehicles

UAVs include both autonomous drones and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). A UAV is capable of controlled, sustained level flight and is powered by a jet, reciprocating, or electric engine. In the twenty first century technology reached a point of sophistication that the UAV is now being given a greatly expanded role in many areas of aviation.

The history of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) is closely tied to the general history of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Swift Engineering

Swift Engineering is an American engineering firm that builds intelligent systems and advanced vehicles, including autonomous systems, helicopters, submarines, spacecraft, ground vehicles, robotics, and advanced composites. Swift was most notable for producing racing cars for a variety of open-wheel racing series, including Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic, the Champ Car World Series and Formula Nippon and had designed and fabricated over 500 race cars.

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), sometimes known as underwater drones, are any submersible vehicles that are able to operate underwater without a human occupant. These vehicles are robotic, and may be divided into the two categories of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROUVs), which are remotely controlled by a human operator; and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which are highly automated and operate independently of direct human input. Sometimes only vehicles in the second category are considered a kind of autonomous robot, but those in the first category are also robots though requiring a remote operator, similar to surgical robots.

Autonomous logistics describes systems that provide unmanned, autonomous transfer of equipment, baggage, people, information or resources from point-to-point with minimal human intervention. Autonomous logistics is a new area being researched and currently there are few papers on the topic, with even fewer systems developed or deployed. With web enabled cloud software there are companies focused on developing and deploying such systems which will begin coming online in 2018.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, also known as AUVSI, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the unmanned systems and robotics industry through communication, education and leadership.

Unmanned aircraft system simulation focuses on training pilots to control an unmanned aircraft or its payload from a control station. Flight simulation involves a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies for pilot training, design, or other purposes. It includes replicating the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of flight controls, the effects of other aircraft systems, and how the aircraft reacts to external factors such as air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud, precipitation, etc.

UAVs in the U.S. military

As of January 2014, the U.S. military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems : 7,362 RQ-11 Ravens; 990 AeroVironment Wasp IIIs; 1,137 AeroVironment RQ-20 Pumas; and 306 RQ-16 T-Hawk small UAS systems and 246 MQ-1 Predators and MQ-1C Gray Eagles; 126 MQ-9 Reapers; 491 RQ-7 Shadows; and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawk large systems.

Loitering munition Weapon that waits around a target

A loitering munition is a weapon system category in which the munition loiters around the target area for some time, searches for targets, and attacks once a target is located. Loitering munitions enable faster reaction times against concealed or hidden targets that emerge for short periods without placing high-value platforms close to the target area, and also allow more selective targeting as the actual attack mission can be aborted.

AVIC Cloud Shadow

The Cloud Shadow, is an unmanned aerial vehicle of the High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) type, featuring an stealthy air-frame. As of 2017 it is being developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for reconnaissance and precision strike missions.

Drones in wildfire management Use of drones/UAS/UAV in wildfire suppression and management

Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Systems/Vehicles (UAS/UAV), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft, are used in wildfire surveillance and suppression. They help in the detection, containment, and extinguishing of fires. They are also used for locating a hot spot, firebreak breaches, and then to deliver water to the affected site. In terms of maneuverability, these are superior to a helicopter or other forms of manned aircraft. They help firefighters determine where a fire will spread through tracking and mapping fire patterns. These empower scientists and incident personnel to make informed decisions. These devices can fly when and where manned aircraft are unable to fly. They are associated with low cost and are flexible devices that offer a high spatiotemporal resolution.


  1. Huang, Hui-Min (September 2004). Autonomy Levels for Unmanned Systems (ALFUS) Framework. Volume I: Terminology. National Institute of Standards and Technology.