What Are Uncrewed Systems? Unpacking Terms and Classifications 

2 July 2024
What Are Uncrewed Systems? Unpacking Terms and Classifications 

Uncrewed systems – which include uncrewed aerial, ground, and maritime systems – are increasingly being developed and used by a wide range of state and non-state actors in the military realm. The increased development and use, by a range of actors, of uncrewed systems has also been enabled by lower costs of production and a range of technological advances which have made these systems easier to use, over longer periods of time, and with additional and more advanced capabilities.

As such, the attractiveness – and use – of such systems has grown over recent years. Moreover, the combination of these elements also raises important questions about proliferation and misuse, as well as regulatory measures and countermeasures. Uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in particular are viewed with concern as regards the implications of the growing proliferation and use to international peace and security. 

A range of terms are used in relation to uncrewed systems and specifically UAVs, most notably the term “drones”. Similarly, a multitude of classification systems exist to categorise these systems and describe their components. This webinar focused on unpacking the different terms and categorisations used and discussing their usefulness and continuing pertinence in light of current and emerging trends in the development, acquisition and use by a range of different actors and for a range of different purposes.  

This was the first webinar in a three-part series on uncrewed systems hosted by UNIDIR and the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA). The next two webinars will focus on exploring the benefits and risks of (mis)use of uncrewed systems and on what actions the multistakeholder community can take to address the threats associated with their uncontrolled proliferation and misuse. 

Event Recording


Opening remarks:

  • H.E. Ambassador Rui Vinhas, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations


  • Lt. Col. Andre Haider, Subject Matter Expert for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), NATO
  • Khalil Otmane, Programme Manager, Autonomous and Remotely Operated Systems (AROS) Programme, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)
  • Sarah Grand-Clément, Researcher, UNIDIR

Moderated by René Holbach, Political Affairs Officer, ODA

When and where

Tuesday 2 July 2024, 16h00-17h00 CET / 10h00-11h00 EST, online.


This event welcomed representatives from Member State delegations, as well as individuals working on issues related to uncrewed systems and members of the multistakeholder community including industry, civil society, and intergovernmental organizations. 


In partnership with: