The Evolution of Drones: Then and Now

The Evolution of Drones: Then and Now

While we are just about to get accustomed to drones being used by the military for missions where threat to human life is very high, a new trend seems to be booming over the last couple of years. We are now very close to a world where commercial and consumer drones will be flying across our friendly skies, day in and day out.

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Ever since September 11th, the U.S. army has relied heavily on unmanned drones for their missions into Afghanistan against the Taliban. But now, more than 14 years later, these drones are used for missions from the Middle East to East Africa with little or no trouble.

Many people may think that it was the U.S. army that brought drones to life, but that’s not true. It was in fact, Samuel Pierpont Langley who, way back in 1896, designed a drone that ran on steam and was made from wood, steel and fabric. His flight did get a little attention, but then the Wright brothers came into the picture and everyone forgot about this unmanned aerial vehicle. Drones have been used in multiple different ways between then and now, although it was only in 1991 that a live television feed was used on a drone.

There are more than 50 companies that are currently developing more than 150 drones. These range all the way from miniatures to those with wingspans as large as airliners. Law enforcement is relying on drones to survey criminal activity and search for missing children. They are even used in countries, such as India to protect animals from poachers in a few national parks. They can even be used to fly first-aid supplies to inaccessible areas.

Consumer drones are available for sale to the public at very affordable prices, and the possibilities with them are endless. You can find drone reviews and a big list of the many quadcopters for sale at

The only problem the government is currently facing is, to keep it simple, how high are these drones allowed to fly? They can’t go too high or they may interfere with regular planes. They can’t go too low either, as they may just crash into someone’s home. Now, there are permits regarding how much area a person owns, but there is very little written about the airspace above a person’s home. Plus, there’s the problem of privacy. How safe will people feel with drones flying overhead all the time?

The number of drones in the country are expected to skyrocket by 2018 and it is very important that all of these issues are effectively addressed by then. More than 7,500 drones are expected to take on the skies in the next 3 years and without proper regulations in place, all hell could break lose.

There are dozens of non-military uses for these drones that have already been approved by the FAA, including; law enforcement, fire-fighting, news coverage, etc. But they are not yet allowed to fly in the same airspace as commercial or private planes.

A few months ago, Amazon made noise about how they were going to start using drones for making deliveries. Ever wondered why the skies aren’t full of these machines by now? Well, the answer is really simple. They are still illegal. Even though you are allowed to use them privately, they have not yet gotten the “go ahead” for commercial use. Why you ask? Well, it’s because the FAA will not allow the filming feature on commercial drones.

One thing you should know about drones is that they have a few, much prettier names as well, quadcopter and UAV. That’s right, these unmanned aerial vehicles are of two types, rotary drones and fixed wing drones. There are other military drones as well, but we are only discussing consumer drones/quadcopters right now.

Even though this industry is bordering on illegal, it is still growing at a rapid pace. This major boom happened as soon as drones were strong enough to carry cameras. This further led to the MPAA requesting exemptions from the ban, citing how much easier it is to film using drones. Even journalists and rescue fighters have asked for permission, since it will make their work a whole lot easier. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much help a quadcopter could be while searching for someone in the middle of a forest or even a crowded city.

But, if the FAA doesn’t make the rules carefully, these drones could have some severe negative effects to our safety. For example, an Amazon drone could simply fall out of the sky one day and kill someone. That would be one hell of a mess now, wouldn’t you say?

At the end of the day, the fact remains that the drone, quadcopter, UAV market is taking off. It is up to the government to ensure that it does so, in a regulated manner allowing consumers and commercial companies to make the best use of this wonderful technology.


Nubis Vision would like to thank Gustavo Robledo at for this guest post.

Nubis Vision

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