Drones used to be used for missions that were too dirty, dull, and dangerous for humans. The military really got into drone use before science, agriculture, recreation, and commercial uses became popular. Today, civilian drones outnumber military drones. More than one million drones were sold in 2015. Multiple names are used for unmanned aerial vehicles, which generally refers to the same vehicles. The term drone is used by the public because the loud motor sounds of the old military unmanned aerial vehicles sounded like the sound of a male bee. Aviation groups and government regulators didn’t like the name drone, so the term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was adopted by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense in 2005.
The term UAS emphasizes the other elements of the aircraft like the data links, ground control stations, and other support equipment. Similar terms like remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), unmanned aircraft vehicle system (UAVS), remotely piloted aerial vehicle (RPAV) are also used to describe an aircraft that does not carry humans and uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift. These aerial vehicles are piloted remotely and fly autonomously. They can be recovered or they can be expendable. Drones can also carry lethal or non-lethal payloads.
There are several types of drones. The military classifies the drones they use as reconnaissance and surveillance, and missile and bomb drones. Military drones are used extensively in war zones. One British drone broke the world record recently when it stayed in the air for more than 82 hours. Drones are cheaper to use and there is no danger that drone operators will be injured or terminated. The United States has two separate squadrons of drones. The Air Force operates one squadron. And the CIA operates another armed squadron of drones. There are at least 36 drones in the air over Iraq and Afghanistan every day, and the U.S. plans to increase that number to 50 or more in the future.
But even though most of the news about drones comes from the missions they complete for the military, companies, and individuals have joined the drone craze. The website, Drone District reviews different types of drones, so novice drone flyers and people who are familiar with the capabilities of drones have a place to learn and review them. Dronedistrict.net reviews racing drones, mini drones, and camera drones, so the pros and the cons of operating drones is front and center.
The latest drone news is centered around the giant online retailer, Amazon. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Amazon a patent in February 2017. The patent protects the method Amazon plans to use to guide packages to homes using drones. Amazon plans to deliver merchandise that weighs less than five pounds using drones, but the drones won’t land. They will release the merchandise by parachute, so it reaches the ground safely. Landing the drones is risky and there are legal issues involved, plus the potential for dangerous collisions and human injury are avoided.