UAV vs RPV: Difference and Comparison

Drones are robotic and pilotless aircraft, similar to modern unarmed aircraft vehicles of the aviation business.

It is possible to fly a drone with remote controls operated by experts, or they can be set to autopilot mode, requiring no internal or external assistance.

Depending on their installed features, drones are categorized as single-motor, multi-motor, or fixed-wing drones.

UAVs and RPVs are both high-level flying robots (drones). A UAV is a drone that does not require external or internal pilots and operates using auto-pilot mode technology, whereas RPV is a drone that does not have a pilot but is controlled and operated by humans from the outside. Let’s understand in detail.

Key Takeaways

  1. UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can operate autonomously or remotely, while RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles) require human control.
  2. UAVs cover a broader category of aircraft, while RPVs are a specific subset of UAVs.
  3. UAVs have diverse applications, including military, research, and commercial uses, while RPVs are predominantly used for military purposes.


UAVs are autonomous aircraft that are programmed to fly and operate without human intervention. They are used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and data collection purposes. RPVs are unmanned aircraft that human operators control from the ground. They are used for military purposes.


UAV is an abbreviation used for unmanned aerial vehicles, or in naïve terms, and it is called an unarmed flying robot. Nikola Tesla also mentions this invention in the year 1915.

Before the first world war, A.M. Low first designed such drones in the early twentieth century. Following WWI, this technology reached new heights in terms of advancement.

The abbreviation RPV stands for remotely piloted vehicles, which are similar in structure to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) but require external help to fly.

These first appeared in the US Army forces in early 2000. Drone pilots receive at least six months of special training to control these drones.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonUAVRPV
Technology UAVs are pre-programmed to fly in any direction based on coded instructions.RPV drones require a drone pilot who controls them externally.
Full NameThe full name of the UAV drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle.The remotely piloted vehicle is the full name for RPV drones
Motor usedA brushless motor has been installed to carry extra weight on the UAV.Both brushless motors and electric motors are installed in RPV.
ApplicationsAn unmanned aerial vehicle is for surveillance, mapping, and temperature mapping.Remotely piloted vehicles could be used for lethal targets and surgical strikes like a pilot plane.
Problems InvolvedSince UAV drones have low levels of security, they can be easily hacked.Drones may be unable to fly due to remote technology failure.

What is UAV?

An unmanned aerial vehicle is the full name of this type of aircraft. An unarmed aerial vehicle is any drone that is not armed (such as a drone without a pilot, crew, or passenger).

Also Read:  Cell vs Tissue: Difference and Comparison

Flying instructions have already been programmed into the software, and it flies following them.

UAVs are used extensively in a variety of industries, including military, agricultural, and transportation.

Drones are used in the military to spy on enemies and to communicate, such as passing sensitive information via artificial intelligence.

Water-resistant UAVs help farmers water their crops using drip irrigation in the agriculture industry and determine the height of the plants.

These drones are utilized for thermal mapping, which detects and adjusts the temperature according to crop needs.

Unarmed aerial vehicles are employed in the transportation sector to convey parcels, vital medicines, and food. Aside from that, they can be used to keep an eye on VIP vehicles for security and transparency reasons.

The unmanned aerial vehicle comes equipped with many technological devices, such as advanced GPS, high-definition cameras, and lasers.

The motor system installed in these drones is a brushless motor (based on direct current, does not require mechanical brushes, and has a power-saving mode).

What is RPV?

RPV stands for a remotely piloted vehicle that has been classified as a drone. As the name implies, these flying robots(drones) need the external aid of trained aircraft pilot to fly and does not consist of any man inside the drone.

Instead of being controlled by programming, these drones are piloted by real-time trained pilots using wireless remote controls. The pilot must have 800 hours of training, certification, and a permit to fly a remotely piloted vehicle.

RPVs are essential for agriculture activities, especially, in hilly terrain, for monitoring crops and spotting any problems. Apart from that, they are used in civil

Also Read:  Hawk vs Eagle: Difference and Comparison

and military applications for transporting essential products and spying on adversaries, just as UAVs.

Small RPVs include a single electric motor. They can fly to the height of 100 feet.

However, full-fledged drones can cover a vertical distance of up to 400 feet with above ground level (AGL) permit assigned by higher authorities of the area where a drone has to fly.

RPVs can be used in lethal situations with an enemy, such as surgical strikes, since their functions are comparable to those of ordinary pilot aircraft.

These are also classified as fixed-wing drones (drones whose wings do not move while taking off).

Main Differences Between UAV and RPV

  1. The full form of UAV is an unmanned aerial vehicle. On the other hand, the full form of RPV is a remotely piloted vehicle.
  2. The programmers who code such drones based on artificial intelligence control the UAVs’ flight. In the case of RAV, skilled pilots use remote controls to control the flight.
  3. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cannot be operated in battles or dangerous situations. On the other side, a remotely piloted vehicle can be used in combat situations.
  4. The UAVs’ motors are based on direct current and do not have mechanical brushes. The installed motor in RVP might be brushless or electric.
  5. The unmanned aerial vehicle’s maximum weight is 150 kg. On the other hand, RPVs have a maximum weight of 100 kg.
Difference Between UAV and RPV

Last Updated : 18 June, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

6 thoughts on “UAV vs RPV: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This is an excellent comparison between UAVs and RPVs. It makes it easier to understand the distinct uses and technologies of two types of drones.

  2. The author’s in-depth explanation and references provide a thorough understanding of drones. I have gained valuable insights from reading this article.

  3. I think this information about drones is extremely useful. Understanding the differences between UAVs and RPVs is essential for anyone interested in this type of technology.

  4. This is an astounding explanation of how drones work. I appreciate the attention to detail and the clear explanation of their applications in different industries.

  5. I don’t think this information is adequately detailed. There are many other aspects of drones that could have been covered, and there are some inaccuracies in the comparison table.

  6. The technical aspects of drones are fascinating, but the potential risks and ethical considerations of using drones should also be addressed in this post.


Leave a Comment

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!