Warzones and unpredictable environments due to weather changes present some of the most extreme regions for humans to access without a significant cost to physical and economic well-being. The need for technology that could access this region and perform tasks at limited economic cost and near-zero human casualties have for many years presented a challenge to societies and motivated investment into the development of existing technologies to realize newer and more capable utilities.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. With the dawn of the first and second world wars, most countries fighting or embroiled in the conflict came to find a greater need for better technology development that could easily allow them to access a variety of regions at lower costs. This need saw the majority of these countries employ a wide range of specialists to define and develop new technologies that would essentially create an avenue for them to attain the upper hand. Need for better technology development became the reason why many countries started hiring specialized experts to develop new technologies.
Other countries were not able to develop radar technologies. Instead, they focused on creating more complex systems for surveillance and communication.
Countries such as Britain were able to develop radar technologies. In contrast, other countries evaluated the idea of creating even complex technologies for surveying, surveillance, communication, and even performing actual strikes on the enemy.
How a Drone Works
The drone is one critical invention born of this era of necessity and is heavily based on the preexisting concept of the airplane. However, throughout the 20th and the 21st Century, technology has only grown and attained greater importance due to its wide range of applications. Summarily, the term drone is an umbrella term used to define any unpiloted aircraft.
More commonly, drones are used to refer to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These are essential crafts that are applied and used to carry out a wide variety of tasks ranging from the delivery of goods and services in the local and global setting to military operations. This wide range also implies that drones can be as small as a mobile phone or as big an aircraft, all relative to the function they are about to perform. Unmanned aerial vehicles are commonly referred to as UAVs. They are small drones that are used to carry out various tasks, such as delivering goods and services in various locations.
The following report creates context around drone technology, outlining its pasts and elaborating on its current development and applications. Summarily, this report highlights that the “drone” was created for the military and aviation industry. Still, with increasing technological adaptation, the invention has become more efficient, safer for large-scale human use, dynamic, and easily manipulated to perform a wide variety of functions across essentially becoming a mainstream utility.
Drones generally have four users, the military, commercial owners, and recreation tools (mass consumers smaller drones). Drones additionally have four critical components. They include connectivity, rotors (alternatively winged drones), accelerometer, and finally, cameras (in modern drones). Connectivity is a platform that allows drones to be controlled remotely. It consists of an antenna that is connected to a mobile platform or a platform on the ground. A Research Team (2020) indicates in other drones. Users can preprogram GPS coordinates into the drone and plan a flight path. According to Dukowitz (2019), a drone controller in the connectivity platform of the sender sends radio signals from the remote control to the drone. The rotor comprises rotating aerofoils that allow the drone to move in either direction according to commands received from the controller. There are four types of drones (Smith, 2018): drones are generally composed of four individuals: the military, commercial, and recreation tools. They have various critical components such as connectivity, rotors, and cameras.
1. Multi-Rotor Drones- more than one rotor
2. Fixed Wing Drones
3. Single Rotor Helicopter- rotor on the top
4. Fixed Wing Hybrid VTOL-combination of both rotor and fixed-wing
The signals contain programmed commands that tell the drone what actions to perform. Radio signals are sent from the radio transmitter in the drone controller and received by the drone’s receiver (Dukowitz, 2019). They tell a drone what to do. Military drones are more complex and have more sophisticated systems. Some are larger and have special functions. Research shows that the drone is controlled with a direct data link from a ground control station from takeoff until it exits the line of sight. Then, the ground control station transfers its communication with the drone to a satellite link to control the aircraft. The drone also relays its position using a GPS (Cuadra and Whitlock, 2014). The use of satellites to communicate is applied since the more extensive commercial, and military drones travel a more considerable distance than smaller recreational drones that are usually always in line of sight of the ground control deck.
Modern drones have more complex technology, such as the radar positioning and return home feature. Using the dual Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS and GLONASS, drones can fly both using radio and in non-satellite regions and use programmed data to trace their way back home (Corrigan, 2020). Modern drones also have obstacle detection technologies, stabilization tools, and navigation tools to become aware of their surroundings and record vast amounts of information.
History of the “Drone”
The term drone is synonymously used to refer to UAVs, but this was not always the case. Drones/UAVs were initially referred to as radio-controlled aerial targets and later shifted to a remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle (Budanovic, 2017). The name, while common today, was coined in the 1930s when a remote-controlled aerial vehicle was developed and modeled after De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer. Modern drones have plenty of complex technology, such as GPS and GLONASS, which allow them to fly both in and out of space. They can also use their GPS data to track their way back home.
Arguably the drone is an invention that takes a lot of inspiration from the airplane. The first modern drone was developed in 1916 by the British, and it was named the Ruston Proctor Aerial Target 16 years after the Wright brothers had developed the first aircraft (Drone Enthusiast, 2020). The drone had a lot of similarities to the earlier developed manned airplane. This was earlier envisioned as a flying bomb, and it was meant to be used to deliver explosives remotely (Boyne, 2010). The technology was radio-controlled. But after years and years of experimentation on the prototype, the technology never picked and it was scrapped. Later on, the Americans successfully developed the Kettering Bug, which was also to be used for military purposes.
During the second world war, drone technology was slightly improved. However, it is not until later on in the late 20th Century when drone technology had become increasingly important and its true potential in warfare became vastly expanded. The available details show that the onset of modern warfare commenced in 1982. This was when Israel used battlefield UAVs to coordinate the manned aircraft and destroy the Syrian fleet while suffering minimal losses. Drones were mainly used to capture the precise target position, jam the communication networks, and act as decoys during the attacks (Drone Enthusiast, 2020). Since then, the technology became increasingly researched and developed and adapted to various areas in life, but the military remains the most significant beneficiary of the product.
Application of the Drone Technology
As already expressed, drones have a wide range of applications. Their usability is relative to the efficiency, availability, simplicity, and safety they provide. Research indicates that their application in the contemporary spaces include use as radio-controlled toy planes for kids and adult enthusiasts, photography and video (cameras can be attached), delivery of packages by commercial companies or surveillance and reconnaissance in inaccessible regions, and in the military, they are used for virtually the same purposes and more advanced activities such as delivering guided missiles packages. Applications of drones vary depending on their various features and their availability. Some of these include the following: photography and video recording, remote controlled toy planes, commercial projects, and reconnaissance.
Future of Drones
With the development of technology, the future of drones remains bright. Opportunities in the field are limitless, and they are increasingly becoming commonplace in modern society. Research shows that drones will be employed in agriculture, conservation, delivery and fulfillment, disaster mitigation efforts, logistics, film making, among many other fields (Cal U, nd). In addition, companies in America and China are increasingly investing money in research and development to further advance its usability, with the American online giant retail company Amazon seeking to deploy drones for the delivery of retail packages enmass, and Chinese company ENHANG seeking to develop a drone taxi system (Drone Enthusiast, 2020). Thus, the future of technology remains bright.
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Cal U. Future Drone Technology | Future of Drones | Aircrafts. California University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from https://www.calu.edu/academics/undergraduate/associate/drone-technology/future-drone-technology-and-uses.aspx#:~:text=In%20the%20future%20farmers%20and,monitor%20and%20spray%20their%20crops.&text=As%20drone%20technology%20advances%2C%20the,also%20be%20delivered%20by%20drone.
Corrigan, F. (2020). How Do Drones Work And What Is Drone Technology. DroneZon. Retrieved from https://www.dronezon.com/learn-about-drones-quadcopters/what-is-drone-technology-or-how-does-drone-technology-work/.
A Research Team. (2020). Up, Up and Away: How Do Drones Work?. Ctia.org. Retrieved from https://www.ctia.org/news/up-up-and-away-how-do-drones-work.
Cuadra, A., & Whitlock,, C. (2014). How drones are controlled. Washington Post. Retrieved 26 May 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/drone-crashes/how-drones-work/.
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Duckowitz. (2019). Drone Controllers: A Look at How They Work and Important Terminology. UAV Coach. Retrieved from https://uavcoach.com/drone-controller/#:~:text=A%20drone%20controller%20works%20by,received%20by%20the%20drone’s%20receiver.
Smith, E. (2018). Types of Drones – Explore the Different Types of UAV’s. Electronic Circuits and Diagrams-Electronic Projects and Design. Retrieved from https://www.circuitstoday.com/types-of-drones.