A drone is a type of robot that can be programmed to fly in certain path, and follow someone using gps. A drone is basically a flying robot. Although some are not programmable and only respond to user joystick commands like toy drones.
They can take pictures and videos, spray crops, and fire weapons. Some also have obstacle avoidance sensors.
Example of drones that are considered a robot:
The Mavic 2
Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
These toy drones are not robots:
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini RC Helicopter Drone
Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 WiFi FPV Drone
DROCON Drone for Beginners X708W
Syma X20 Mini Pocket Drone
Potensic A20 Mini Drone
Everyone knows robots from TV shows or movie screens. But most people are not knowledgeable about what the definition of a robot is and how do they work. Besides the ever-present ignorance when it comes to robotic matters, in the last couple of years drones have gained popularity. There is a lot of drone variety ranging from all colors, functions and price ranges. They are constantly used in internet videos. And from the popularity of both drones and robots, the question arises. Is a drone a robot? Are they similar or completely different things? From a distance, it seems a fairly simple question, even though most people will bring conflicting answers. If you pay close attention, it might not be that simple after all.
A robot is a machine that looks like a real living being able to do complicated actions. Basically, a robot is a complex machine that performs actions unmanned. Needless to say, it is programmed by humans via a computer, but it is left alone to act afterward.
This simplifies the common notion of what a robot is. Most people think of robots as machines built like a human and that it is programmed to interact like one. That could be the right definition when it comes to advanced robots. But you have to consider the most basic ones, such as the ones that sort orders in a warehouse or even autonomous vacuums.
What is a drone?
A drone is an unmanned machine used by humans via controllers. The technical name is “unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)”. This name stems from the drone military beginnings. UAVs -or drones- were first used for military missions that were deemed too dangerous for human personnel. Eventually, like most military technology, it was adapted for civilian use and commercialized.
People are more familiar with the idea of a drone. Drones were made popular thanks to their commercial success and its use in viral videos. For most people, it is a little machine controlled by a human via wireless controllers.
On their similarities.
At first glance, a drone is a robot. They are both machines used by humans to perform a different set of actions. Even though a robot’s definition takes into account “complex actions”, simpler robots do minor things like vacuuming a floor. And drones have advanced a lot since its military beginning. They can be programmed to fly without human supervision and perform complex tasks that include traveling and even gone as far as being deployed for secret missions like the drone X-37B, used by NASA for classified operations.
There are also manned robots, like the antibomb squad robots used by policemen all over the world. They are machines used similarly like drones that need to be manned but is still regarded as a robot.
On their differences.
If you have to be painstakingly accurate regarding their definition and functions, a robot is way more complex than the average drone. Most drones need to be piloted by humans and are nothing but simple machines with no autonomous programming whatsoever. The most advanced robots are humanlike in their looks and actions. And the most advanced drones do not have the same expectations as their robotic counterparts.
Drones are overall simpler than robots. They need more active attention and have a smaller scope when it comes to functions. Drones are usually used for military bombings, film recording or flying them for fun. All manned actions, not automatic. Robots, on the other hand, have a wide range of uses from a simple vacuum to a human-like bot that can walk and interact with real humans, something beyond the scope of a drone.
There is a silver lining to this issue, regardless. While drones and robots are different when they are taken on their extreme side of the scope -drones are on the simpler side of things and robots are on the complex side- you can say that complex drones start to be more robot than a drone. And that simple robots are more drone than a robot. After a certain clear-cut point, whether a machine is a drone or a robot has more to do with its function than its looks or definition. A drone could be a robot, but it is not always the case.