Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

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About UAVs

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Its flight is controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle.

UAVs include both autonomous drones and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). A UAV is capable of controlled, sustained level flight and is powered by a jet, reciprocating, or electric engine. In the 21st century, technology reached a point of sophistication that the UAV is now being given a greatly expanded role in many areas of aviation.

They are usually deployed for military and special operation applications, but also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as policing and firefighting, and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for manned aircraft.


Austrian balloons

August 22, 1849, the first air raid in history. Austria launches pilotless balloons against the city of Venice. The balloons were armed with bombs controlled by timed fuses. Some of the bombs exploded as planned but the wind changed direction and blew several balloons back over the Austrian lines.

Although balloons do not generally meet today’s definition of a UAV, the concept was strong enough that once winged aircraft had been invented, the effort to fly them unmanned for military purposes was not far behind.

World War I

The first pilotless aircraft were built during and shortly after World War I. Leading the way, using A. M. Low’s radio control techniques, was the “Aerial Target” of 1916.

World War II

More were made in the technology rush during World War II (one is The Queen Bee); these were used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions

After that, drones are used with several purposes in Vietnam War, Yom Kippur War, and in gathering intelligence program after the September 11 attack. But I think that was so enough information for wars. Life changes and so the use of drone, lol.

FAA restriction

  • For recreation and sport purposes – voluntary safety standards of the Academy of Model Aeronautics
  • For non-recreational purposes in the US – users must obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to operate in national airspace;

At the moment, COAs require a public entity as a sponsor. For example, when BP needed to observe oil spills, they operated the Aeryon Scout UAVs under a COA granted to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. COAs have been granted for both land and ship-borne operations

As of August 2013, commercial unmanned aerial system (UAS) licenses were granted on a case-by-case basis, subject to approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A Congressional mandate to integrate UASs into U.S. airspace protocols is forecast to grant FAA licenses more broadly as early as 2015; the agency expecting that five years after it unveils a regulatory framework for UASs weighing 55 pounds or less, there will be 7,500 such devices in the air.


  • Commercial use of drones is currently illegal under FAA rules

This is something that could be changing sooner than expected.

Technological advances

  • Humans out of harm’s way.
  • No limitation on human endurance. If the aircraft can stay aloft for 40 hours… then missions can last 40 hours.
  • G-force – A human pilot can only take so many g’s, but an unmanned aircraft can take a tremendous amount of g-forces.
  • Ability to make them small.
  • High accessibility – 1 billion people live with no access to all-season roads (their roads are destroyed in wet weather or after a catastrophe). Cars or other road motor vehicles cannot be used to deliver medicine or other supply. There is a drone for that.
  • Unlimited data memory – For setting routines or saving images captured by cameras on drones.
  • Ability to work on extreme environment – very hot, very cold, very strong wind but still very steady vehicles
  • Small operating expense – 24 cents for transporting 2kg over 10km (3 cents for vehicles, 9 for battery, 10 for stations, and 2 for energy) calculated by MatterNet


Uses of Drones in Businesses

Drones are no longer known as mere weapons of war. At least, that’s how Google, Facebook, and other online giants like Amazon appear to be thinking.

1. Delivering small packages

Most notably, Amazon announced a drone delivery initiative that resulted in an FAA standoff.

(Images: drone delivery test of Amazon and DHL)

(Image) U.S. start-up Matternet aims to create a network of drones capable of transporting potentially lifesaving goods to rural and under-developed areas. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is backing rural drone transport too, funding a project that aims to transport vaccines to hard-to-reach and disaster-struck locations.

(Image) Delivery Drones system can be developed in cities too, for lightweight urgent stuff, working 247, just like the Internet.

Imagine someday the pizza delivery guy is replaced by a pizza delivery drone (Do we still have to tip? 😉

2. Communication service

The solar-drones, which can reportedly stay airborne for five years, would act as movable wireless access points.

(images) Google has just acquired Titan Aerospace; Facebook acquires UK-based drone maker Ascenta… to deliver internet to more of the world’s population.

And German communications provider Deutsche Telekom is tired of people stealing their copper cables. So they contracted a company to tag overhead telephone cables with drones across Germany in an effort to fight theft of the cables, which has shot up in recent years with the value of copper.

3. News

Using drones equipped with cameras – they fly lower and into smaller areas than larger manned aircraft.

Ex: Golf Channel tested with ‘hover fly’ camera for tournaments

4. Aerial Photography

Commercial photography has a lot to gain from legal UAVs

A drone with camera can take high-resolution videos and photographs, and do detailed mapping.

Imagine after a catastrophe, an insurance company could contract a drone-savvy photographer to take aerial shots of a property, making survey of everything and streams it all into a computer. The insurance company immediately has a sense of everything that needs to be done with very little money.

(Images) 1. A drone is spotting an early stage forest fire

2. Drones are used to estimate the situation in a fire

3. A drone in an avalanche early warning system

Images: Drone Inspectors

EasyJet is intending to use small unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out external inspections during maintenance checks. The micro-helicopters can be modified to scan for damage on aircraft surfaces and provide feedback to engineering personnel. “Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and, potentially, with greater accuracy,” says EasyJet’s head of engineering Ian Davies.

5. Agriculture:

Large-scale farmers might utilize UAVs to monitor crop growth, analyze the land or spray pesticides

Soon, real farming could be as easy as online farming games

6. Population growth:

High-flying drones could be used to survey and document wildlife.

Please check back for updates,