All About Drones

Drone” is a common term that is used to refer to an unmanned aircraft. In military terminology it is referred to as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). It is a machine that can be maneuvered with a remote control or fly autonomously through pre-programmed flight paths embedded in their systems. Drones are designed with onboard sensors and GPS navigation which allow it to fly seamlessly.  

Drones are constructed with light composite materials to reduce the overall weight and maximize maneuverability. The strength of the composite material allows military drones to be operated at high altitudes, fly at higher speeds, and increase fuel efficiency. Drones typically have two parts to them: the body and the control system. The nose of the drone is where all the sensors and navigational systems are installed. The rest of the body is used for miscellaneous drone technology systems. An essential component that all drones share is the requirement for a waterproof engine shell in case it enters water. 

For decades, drones have commonly been associated with military operations. Drones don’t require a pilot, don’t require rest, and they can fly as long as its fuel capacity permits; therefore, they have played a critical role in intelligence, artillery spotting, target following and acquisition, battle damage assessment and reconnaissance, surveillance and force protection, and weaponry. In the past decade, drones have entered the commercial market and cannot be mistaken with military UAVs— these vehicles are much larger and more complex than the drones that are sold to the general public. 

Drones are similar to other aircraft in that they can be constructed and classified under two broad types: rotor (including single and multi-rotor) and fixed-wing (including the hybrid VTOL). They can be equipped with a wide array of sensors including distance sensors, chemical sensors, stabilization/orientation sensors, time-of-flight sensors, and much more. Thermal sensors play an integral part in surveillance and security purposes. Hyperspectral sensors have found a home in agriculture as they can assist in identifying minerals and vegetation, monitoring crop health, and observing water quality. 

The use of drones is quickly expanding and adapting into different markets. Hollywood utilizes them in movies, photography, commercials, and websites. Government agencies use drones for weather monitoring services, such as observing storms and hurricanes, and use them for many other applications. They’re also used for search and rescue missions in wildlife terrain or expansive territories. 

There’s no doubt that drones are among the most technologically advanced devices in modern aeronautics and robotics. This is an exciting time to see how drones will evolve. 

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