If you regularly watch the news, especially segments about the latest technological advancements, then you have most likely have heard about drones. Using the simplest of language, drones can be defined as any unmanned ship or aircraft which is guided remotely. Drones have the capability to navigate independently without the need for human control. Although the popularity of drones has only increased in the last couple of years, they have been around since 1910. The only difference is that today’s drones are more sophisticated, have an increased versatility and they are more effective and efficient compared to their predecessors. If you are interested in buying a drone, or you want to develop one, then read on. It gives a brief history of drones, outlines their main functions and most importantly, lists must-have drone features.
A Brief History
The first drone in the history of mankind is said to have been made in the year 1918, during World War 1. The man credited with this discovery is Elmer Ambrose Sperry. He was hired by the US navy to develop Curtis biplanes which could navigate without the need for human control. These biplanes were at the time referred to as “air torpedoes”. Unlike modern day drones, these drones could only launch by being catapulted. They were primarily used to fly over enemy territories and positions. They had an inbuilt camera and the images captured were sent to a secret program that was running inside a highly secured field in central Long Island, NY. When the war ended, drone making and development stagnated. This was mainly because there was little to no need for them at the time.
The modern drone was made in the U.S. in the year 1999 and was first used by the CIA in Afghanistan in the year 2000. At this time, drones were strictly used by the military and they were off limits for the general public. As of the year 2008, it was legal in the U.S. for the general public to manufacture drones, be it for commercial or for personal reasons.
Uses and Applications of Drones
When they were first developed, modern drones were primarily meant for carrying out intelligence and surveillance operations. Since they had already gotten rid of the human factor, their use and application became broader, including being used in high risk and very dangerous areas where human presence is totally unheard of. Such fields include search and rescue missions, location of bombs and location of defects in structures. Armies with fleets of drones today are considered to have an upper hand. The key uses and applications of drones are:
- To hack into computers or phone lines in order to gather information.
- To provide support in the air.
- To discreetly follow and/or attack targets.
- To observe public or traffic behavior.
- To provide tactical and intelligence support.
- To check for dangerous devices such as bombs and other forms of explosives on landing areas and on roads.
- To spy on enemy territories.
- Inspections of pipelines, wind turbines and power lines.
- They are used in science and research as they help scientists in observing different occurrences in nature.
- They are used in mapping and surveying as they use laser scanners and multi-spectral cameras which create high quality maps in 3-D.
- They are used in search and rescue missions since they can access areas which humans cannot.
Must-have Drone Features
For beginners who want to buy drones, one of the most crucial things you have to be aware of is about the latest features and aspects present in a drone. This way, you will be in a position of knowing what to expect from your drone. In this section, the must-have drone features are going to be listed, followed by an explanation of how they work. Also, it should be noted that one feature can go by a totally different name from one brand of drone to another.
-Geo-Fence/No Fly Zone
The FFA regulates that no drone should fly higher than 121 meters (400 ft). When you are purchasing your drone, you should pay a lot of attention to this feature to ensure that it is in full compliance with the regulations, so as not to illegally fly. This drone features enables you to set boundaries so that your drone does not fly over the specified distance.
-The Tracking Mode/Look-Down Feature
This feature helps you set your drone in such a way that it can easily spot objects, take photos or record videos. The feature also enables the drone to either hover over or chase a target.
-The Failsafe Mode
Also known as the uncontrollable return to land feature, this is one of the must-have features for drones. It ensures that the drone does not get lost while it is in the air. Through the use of this feature, the drone will automatically return back home, even when the connection from the radio controller has been lost.
-The Auto-Landing Feature
This feature is similar to the Failsafe mode feature. The only difference is that this feature has a button on the controller that enables you to simply summon and call your drone back home.
-Circle Hovering/Orbit 360
This feature allows the drone to fly around the pilot, or more accurately, around the transmitter. This way, the drone can capture everything when it is taking pictures. Although the circle’s radius in which the drone hovers around varies, it is usually eight meters (26 ft) from the controller.
The future of drones looks very promising. As this article outlined, from their history, uses and applications and must-have drone features, there is no doubt that we will be witnessing a lot of new developments in the world of drones in the near future. It is highly advisable to ensure that you get all the drone features as outlined by the FFA. A drone with all the above features is not only safe, but also very effective and efficient. To save costs and maximize on their usage, always ensure that your drone has all these safety features, both personally and legally.
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