Micro aerial vehicles are a special class of UAVs that have gained a lot of attention and research focus in the past few years. These are generally smaller in size ranging from 3m to 15 cm depending on where you look.

So, is there a clear, recognized or accepted definition of an MAV in terms of size and power? I am interested in the upper limits i.e. the line classifying a UAV as an MAV.


2 Answers 2


Currently, there seems to be little official definition, and the term MAV appears is relatively new. The only paper on the topic I could find that specifically approached the area defined it as:

"small enough to be practical for a single-person transport and use." (Galiński and R. Żbikowski, 2007)

Delft University of Technology section on MAV research provide no clear definition in their documents.

I think the definition seems to more subjective to the flying properties to the UAV, which might make the definition more difficult. Since they are not carrying people but sensors, they will be much more varying in weight, especially in with time.

One example, the british army's MAV has a flight time of 25 minutes. This one is a very small but has a respectable flight time. This will not simplify definition. I think the term coined by Galiński and Żbikowski is the most useful in a practical sense.

Update: University of Texas page on the DARPA competion says:

The definition employed in DARPAs program limits these aircraft to a size less than 15 centimeters (6 in.) in length, width, or height. MAVs must have a weight of 50 grams or less and must be capable of staying aloft for 20 to 60 minutes for a distance of 10 kilometers.

The pure source for this this, while not avaliable any longer, I believe I found to be

The definition employed in DARPA's program limits these craft to a size less than 15 cm (about 6 inches) in length, width or height. Source

There are currently no civilian classifications for UAVs from the FAA or EASA, hence the legal problem with these. Most army and air force drones operate under military exceptions if I'm not mistaken.


I wouldn't regard some of the large Hexacopters that can be transported and flown by one person as an MAV or even a craft like the Walkera QRx350 or a DJI Phantom; I would call these UAV's.

These Mini and Micro Quadcopters are quadcopters but the MAV term could apply to fixed wing aircraft and helicopters below a certain size


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