UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
There are many variations of the unabbreviated form of UAV, namely; Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Unmanned Air Vehicle, Unmanned Airborne Vehicle, Unmanned Aerospace Vehicle, Uninhabited Air Vehicle, Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle, Unoccupied Air Vehicle as well as many other names. In some cases this has even been expanded to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (UAVS).
Officially, according to the United Nations and NATO, UAV is the abbreviated form of the term Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
It is basically a reusable remotely piloted aircraft. UAVs are either controlled from a remote location or fly autonomously on a pre-programmed flight plan or a combination of both. They are used in a variety of roles including surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, surveying and many more.
UAS – Unmanned Aircraft System
The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defence have officially adopted the term Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for a UAV, this was adopted in order to reflect that UAVs are not only aircraft, but systems which include ground stations and other elements besides the actual aircraft. This term not widely used as yet but is spreading through both military and civilian industries because it is the correct term to describe a UAV.
GCS – Ground Control Station
A ground Control Station (GCS) is the ground based control element of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). From this station the UAV can either be piloted by a human directly or the automated flight plan can be modified.
SUAS – Small Unmanned Aircraft System
A Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) is just a man portable UAS. It has no officially
defined size specifications but in general it is small, easily transportable and usually only requiring 1 or 2 persons
controlling the entire system.
MAV – Micro Air Vehicle
According to the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States, a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) is a UAV which has dimensions not exceeding 15 centimetres.
NAV – Nano Air Vehicles
According to the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States, a Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) is a UAV which has dimensions not exceeding 7.5 centimetres.
UCAV – Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle
An Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) is an armed UAV
designed to attack a target using weaponry.
A Drone is just a commonly used name for a UAV.