The history of drones and the future

Think of drones and like me, most people think about the UCAVs, Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles used predominantly by the US forces. Some are used for recon missions, others are far more brutal and accurate with their laser-guided bombs and missiles.

The earliest known use of a drone type vehicle was in Austria in 1892 when balloons carrying explosives were used to bomb Venice. The same was also used by the Japanese during the second world war. Several glider type drones have also been used in various wars around the world. However, like the balloons, the level of user control was very limited.

Damage limitation

So, the USA began producing extremely hi-tech cutting edge drones costing upwards of $6 million US dollars. The pilot sitting 100’s of miles away in a comfy chair and HD views of his drones’ surroundings and every control needed at his or her fingertips. With frightening accuracy, a laser-guided missile can be fired from great heights out of the reach of enemy surface to air missiles causing almost guaranteed carnage on the ground. The result of this was zero loss of life on the US side of things and their main aim, other than wiping out the enemy, complete damage limitation!

The future for this technology

We are now living in the times of 5th generation, highly capable and technical fast jets. All the major powers of the world are producing their own versions. However, there will be a time when pilots will only be sat where the guy I mentioned earlier was sat, and military jets will be flown remotely. Even pre-planned missions using laser technology and military grade GPS systems where no pilot will be needed at all will be widely available.

The fun world of quadcopter drones and their serious side

Drones in the hands of the general public have become massively popular. These are, of course, predominantly quadcopters. In the early days, they were unwieldy and the only level of control was a basic remote held by the user. Then came rudimentary, low-resolution cameras so that the user could record what the drone was seeing.

With the advent of new materials and technology, especially 5Ghz multi-channel connectivity, plus HD and 4K camera technology and also battery technology, it is now possible to produce beyond TV quality video. This is used in a myriad of situations from recreational use to commercial use.

Globally, there are people racing quadcopter drones around setup courses at phenomenal speeds using remote goggles etc. It really quite amazing to watch. On a more serious side, emergency services including the police, Fire service and also mountain rescue teams, are using drones. They are used as frontline systems in their everyday work as they offer an extremely manoeuvrable technology that is far far cheaper than using full-sized helicopters that are notorious for being extremely expensive to run and maintain. Other uses include high-resolution video clips for the estate agent industry to scenes from weddings and of course, the corporate world will have a vast array of uses too.

There are even drones being developed that can pick up a human. This will be of great use to people caught up in tight situations, for instance, mountain rescue.

It is good to see that the law has caught up with the technology too. Anyone flying a drone commercially must be qualified and trained by the CAA. Further to this, there are now a strict set of rules that must be followed to fly drones. Those underhanded enough to be dropping drugs etc. off at Her Majesty’s pleasure facilities also better watch out. There is technology being developed to not only detect a drone entering the perimeter of a prison but will also pinpoint the location of the user. I hope you can run fast!

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