FAQ and Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the differences between: UAS, UAV, UGV, USV, and UUV?
  2. How easy is it to program the flight path?
  3. Why rotorcraft instead of fixed-wing aircraft for UAV?
  4. Why tandem designs instead of traditional helicopter designs?
  5. Is smaller really better?
  6. What is non-line-of-sight (NLOS) flight?
  7. How safe are UAV?


What are the differences between: UAS, UAV, UGV, USV, and UUV?

A UAV is an unmanned aerial vehicle; a UAS is an unmanned aerial system. Many people use UAS and UAV interchangeably. However, the UAV is typically only the aircraft. A UAS typically includes the ground control station, radio, and so on. A UGV is a ground vehicle; a USV is a water-based surface vehicle, and a UUV is an unmanned underwater vehicle.

A UAV could carry a UGV and drop it into location in remote terrain to monitor livestock, migratory wildlife, or a geographical border. A UAV could also carry a UUV out over the water. For example, a UAV could carry an autonomous, underwater mine detector and deploy it along a shipping lane to help ensure clear channels.

One of the new emergency medical packages available for marine operations is a USV, which could be deployed from a long-distance UAV. Once a boat in distress or floating victims are located, the UAV could drop the USV, which would then self-navigate to the victims and provide a stable platform for survival until manned transport could reach them.


How easy is it to program the flight path — can anyone do it?

DPI UAV are designed for simple, one-person operation. Flight paths are created with easy, user-friendly waypoint navigation. You do not need to be a skilled pilot. It’s like using an online map application (such as Google Maps*) to plan a trip. Just as you can select cities or streets in a trip path, you just select the terrain markers or streets for the UAV flight path. You can easily add or delete, drag-and-drop, and change waypoints as needed.

Because you are ‘flying’ an aircraft, for each waypoint, you select an action or a series of actions. Actions include: fly through, change direction, hover, land (for example, to allow for loading or unloading), perch and stare (for a specific period of time, such as to monitor a migratory wildlife path), take a photo, return to base, etc.

DPI provides online tutorials that walk you through a flight programming session. We can offer suggestions and tips to help you optimize your flight path. We also provide a Flight FAQ to answer common questions about path programming.

Training, tutorials, and other learning materials are provided to authorized users. If you are not already a customer, please contact DPI for information about UAV training.


Why rotorcraft instead of fixed-wing aircraft for UAV?

Vertical take-off/land (VTOL) aircraft include traditional helicopters, tandem helicopters, and multirotor aircraft. Rotorcraft are mechanically more complicated than fixed-wing aircraft, but they have some significant advantages:

  • VTOL: No runway required, no recovery equipment required.
  • Fly at low altitudes to provide the ideal range for unloading each type of payload. For example, dropping water on a wildfire, precision spraying for an invasive species in a wheat field, or a precision drop of emergency medical equipment onto a fishing boat in rough seas.
  • No stall speed.

Small tactical rotorcraft UAV have additional advantages over fixed-wing UAV. Small tactical rotorcraft can:

  • Move to and from remote teams without dedicated ground equipment.
  • Launch and recover with 8-inch accuracy CEP, from the decks of heaving, pitching, rolling ships moving at up to 15 kts. (Requires Airbus Defense & Space DeckFinder*.)
  • Optimize sensor and designator look angles for precision photography or video.
  • Launch (engine ignition), recover (land and engine shut-down), and re-launch remotely, without human interaction.
  • Track a moving target through complex terrain, such as jungle, forest, rugged mountain, or urban environments.
  • Fly the nap of the earth (NoE) in complex terrain.
  • Perch and stare for extended persistence, such as to monitor migratory wildlife or remote livestock herds.
  • Self-deploy to support small group operations, such as search-and-rescue, wildfire fighting, disaster response ops, and other mobile operations.


Why tandem designs instead of traditional helicopter designs?

Tandem and multi-rotor helicopters have some important advantages over traditional helicopter designs:

  • All power is devoted to lift. Tandem designs generate approximately 24% more power for lift than a traditional helicopter with a tail-rotor.
  • No tail rotor to damage during landing/take-off from unprepared terrain or from FOD.
  • Less FOD kicked up during take-off and landing.

These features improve efficiency and reduce maintenance, making the tandem design a cost-effective helicopter.


Is smaller really better?

Right now, most small UAVs on the market are hobby aircraft. They can handle real-world flight conditions and carry a useful payload for a useful amount of time. However, as payload weight, size and power requirements increase, the vehicle must also increase its size, weight and power. Unlike the current small UAVs on the market, DPI UAVs can carry additional weight, fly for an extended endurance, and provide a more stable platform for advanced sensors/payloads.


What is non-line-of-sight (NLOS) flight?

Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) refers to communication, not really to flight. A manually controlled UAV is controlled by radio frequency (RF) communication, which can be blocked by buildings, hills, rocks, etc. In other words, the UAV loses radio communications with the controller.

Programmable mission parameters and intelligent path planning allow for comm drop-outs as well as full NLOS missions.


How safe are UAV?

DPI UAV are rigorously and extensively tested for safety, not just for efficient operation. We have a proven record of safe operations domestically as well as internationally. Our safety technologies include advanced collision avoidance technology, warning lights, alarms, rotor brakes, and interlocks.


Common UAV Acronyms

2D Two dimension or two-dimensional
3D Three dimension or three-dimensional
4DoF Four degrees of freedom
6DoF Six degrees of freedom
A2AD Anti-access area denial
ACC Air Combat Command
AD* Anytime D*
AFRL Air Force Research Lab
AI Air interceptor
bmp bits-map-point
C2 Command and control
C3 Command, communications, and control
CE Center of gravity envelope
CFPS Combat Flight Planning Software
CG Center of gravity
Comm Communications
CoT Cursor on target; an XML protocol
CoT Event A specific instance of CoT
XMLCRD Common route definition
csv comma separated values; a type of file format
DAQ Data acquisition
DP-12 DP-12 Rhino tandem helicopter
DP-14 DP-14 Hawk tandem helicopter
DPI Dragonfly Pictures, Inc.
ECM Electronic countermeasures
EMI Electromagnetic interference
EO Electro-optical
FDM Flight dynamics model
FEZ Fighter engagement zone
FOV Field of view
FPM Flight performance model
GCS Ground control system
GUI Graphical user interface
hae Height above ellipsoid
hfov Horizontal field of view
ICOA Intelligent course of action
ICD Interface control document
ID Identification
IMU Inertial measurement unit
INS Inertial navigation system
IR Infrared
LAR Launch acceptability region
LASERCoT Light amplification of stimulated emission of radiation
LIDAR Light detection and ranging
MSL Mean sea level
NOE Nap-of-earth. The aircraft flies close to the ground, along the contours of the ground.
NLOS Non-line-of-sight
PICAL Planning of Intelligent Course of Action with Learning
PPLI Positive positions locating information; also called the ownship position
RF Radio frequency
ROS Robot operating system
SAM Surface-to-air missile
SAML Surface-to-air missile launcher
SBIR Small Business Innovation Research
SPARTACUS Self Protection and Reactive Technology for an Advanced Combat Utility System.
TOF Time of flight
UAS Unmanned aerial system, which consists of the DP-12 Rhino tandem helicopter, the ground control station, and the removable wheels used for ground transportation
UAV Unmanned aerial vehicle, such as the DP-12 Rhino tandem helicopter
UDP User Datagram Protocol
UDP/IP User Datagram Protocol/Internet Protocol
UGV Unmanned ground vehicle
UID Unique identifier; typically user-defined
USV Unmanned surface vehicle (marine vehicle)
VMC Vehicle management computer
VMS Vehicle management system; typically an onboard computer
VTOL Vertical take-off and land