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Drones in Motion

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Contributed by Amit Lal



When we see Drones or UAVs, we may think that they have complex mechanisms for bringing out the motion in them. They can be mechanically or electronically controlled methods, but all of them can be easily explained based on Newton's laws of motion.


There are three basic methods of motion in a drone:


1. Differential Thrust


2. Thrust Vectoring


3. Tilting Rotors


Most drones bring about change in motion utilising any of these methods or by using a combination of any of these methods.


In case of Differential Thrust Newton's First and Second Law are pretty much observable. On basis of first law if there isn't a force applied in one direction then there wouldn't have been a resultant change. On basis of Second Law a change in original motion proportional to the direction and magnitude of force is brought about when differential force is applied.






In case of Thrust Vectoring, all the three Newton's Laws are clearly visible. On basis of first law there wouldn't be any change in motion if the thrust direction wouldn't have been changed by vectoring. On basis of second law a similar explanation as in case of differential thrust can be given. On Basis of third law we can explain that when vectored to X axis, a momentum in negative X axis is obtained, as every action will have equal and opposite reaction.





In case of Tilt Rotors, once again all Newton's Laws of Motion pretty much like in Thrust Vectoring can be explained but only difference would be that instead of only thrust being vectored the whole thrust generating setup is vectored bringing about the change in motion.





Other than that there are three major axes by which drones bring about change in motion

called as

  1. Pitch Axis/ Lateral Axis

  2. Roll Axis/ Longitudinal Axis

  3. Yaw Axis / Vertical Axis





The three basic motions that an drone undergoes are

1: Pitching is the motion of the drone about its lateral axis.

2: Rolling is the motion of the drone about its longitudinal axis.

3: Yawing is the motion of the drone about its vertical axis.


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