The drone technology has evolved greatly in recent times. In last ten years alone this industry has exploded with new inventions and newer ways to use these units in daily life.
The man has come a long way, from wishing to fly like birds, we now have machines fly for us. These machines do our bidding in the most efficient and precise way possible. From air filled balloons of yesteryears now we have drones for the military. We got drones for delivering packages, and in the near future working as taxis and ambulances.
Technologies may have evolved but this evolution has enabled the man to transcend his thinking limits and invent new things, new marvels.
What are Drones?
The term “drone” is meant for any unmanned robot either preprogrammed or remotely controlled which can be used in the water, land, or air. The most common drone is an aerial unit which is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and flies without an onboard pilot. Modern UAVs are equipped with high definition cameras for recording and GPS system for tracking.
Drones are providing people with new ways to do their day-to-day activity in all facets of life, be it work or play. From drone racing to engineering and research to spying and security, people have come up with brilliant applications of such devices for different kinds of situations.
Looking at the recent boom in usage of commercial drones it is safe to say that the drone age seems to be just around the corner.Drones are not new, as there have been radio-controlled airplanes or copters known as RC toys used since the 1940s & 50s. But the uses and applications of the modern day drones are much broader than those RC crafts.
Drones can be categories in many classes with respect to many aspects. Check out our blog about the various Types of Drones for an in-depth read on this topic. In the broadest of terms, drones are categories in 3 types: Aerial, Amphibious, and Land drones.
As the name suggests, these units are used while keeping it airborne. From attack drones for the military to aerial photography usage, these drones have a large number of uses for the society.
Checking out a pool of fishes or their habitat for research purposes have never been so much easy before. Amphibious drones are helping scientists to gather usual information about marine life in various lakes and seas.
Land drones are built for irregular terrains where aerial or amphibious drones are not suitable, such as caves, mining shafts, and tunnels. Applications of using land drones do not just stop here, these can be used in radioactive environments such as nuclear power plants and affected zones as well as war zones and curbing criminal activities.
Austrian’s Balloon Bombs
Usage of drones dates back to as far as 1849 when Austrians used balloons filled with bombs to attack Venice. This idea to use balloons for bombardment was in the works by the Austrians since 1783. On the direction of Austrian Commander of that assault on Venice, a number of explosive balloons were sent towards the city. Although some were on target, a few of the balloons went with the wind and exploded on the Austrian lines themselves. There was no remote control equipment to control those balloons, instead, they were just launched with a specific trajectory towards the general direction of the targets.
World War I
The first remotely controllable pilotless aircraft was built shortly after the first world war. This aircraft was controlled using the radio signals. Later in 1916 automatic airplanes were developed called the “Flying Bombs” which were later used to bomb land or sea units as aerial torpedoes. Those resembled today’s cruise missiles in some way and were controlled using gyroscopes.
After the first world war ended, almost all of the militaries of that time started focusing on the successful concept of developing remotely controlled missiles and aircrafts. There were cases of an army converting an in-use fighter plane into a small monoplane and used it as a cruise missile.
In the 1930s British and US armies developed various types of radio-controlled aerial targets which were used to give aerial target practice to their armies and airforce. the term “drone” is said to have derived from the name of one of there RC aerial target called the “Queen Bee” developed by the British Royal Army.
World War II
The first large-scale production of aerial pilotless aircrafts was done by the Reginald Denny company which produced fifteen thousand drones for the US army to be used in the second world war. These drones were codenamed as Radioplane OQ-2.
Later Drone Developments
During the second world war and afterward, the pilotless aircrafts and radio controlled missiles started to gain the interest of different organizations. These historical developments are discussed in detail in Wikipedia’s History of unmanned aerial vehicles page. If you prefer a brief overview of drone history you may also check out this article.
There are a number of similar terms used for aerial drones. Here are a few commonly referred terms: Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Remotely Operated Aircraft (ROA), Unmanned Aircraft (UA), and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).