Piston and rotary engines are two types of internal combustion engines with distinct differences in design and functionality. The main difference lies in how they convert fuel into energy. Piston engines have cylinders that move up and down, while rotary engines have a rotor that spins around a central shaft. Piston engines are more common and produce higher torque, while rotary engines are smaller, lighter, and have a higher power-to-weight ratio. Both engines have their advantages and disadvantages, but understanding their differences is crucial for choosing the right engine for specific applications.