There are two basic types of unmanned aircraft systems: fixed-wing units with a brushless electric motor (see image at right), and multirotor units with multiple motors that allow them to hover at precise altitudes and positions (see image below). They can be equipped with GPS, sensors, cameras, and other equipment, and controlled by onboard computers or remotely by on-ground operators to:
Fly at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft
- Bypass traffic
- Enter environments that are dangerous to humans
- Provide remote sensing, visual or thermal imaging, and live video feed
- Depending on size, reach areas that manned aircraft and ground vehicles cannot.