Advances in unmanned aerial vehicles through the years

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that does not fly with any on board crew or passengers. Instead it can be autonomous or operated by a trained pilot remotely. A UAV is a sophisticated machine, and is designed to return safely after each mission, rather than being abandoned or destroyed. Where once these vehicles were something of science fiction, recent technological developments have seen these vehicles grow to become more and more commonly used in many areas of aviation.

Early UAVs
In its earliest use, UAV or ‘drone’ type aircraft were fashioned out of balloons, and used in Australian battlefields in 1849! Drones continued to develop throughout World War I and early versions of pilot-less aircraft controlled by radio were tried and tested on the battlefields.

Where UAVs were conventionally bulky and basic forms, only available to government organisations, they have developed to become complex examples of robotics that are easily affordable, accessible and used by trained professionals.

Drones for commercial use
As well as small vehicles being produced for purely recreational use, in today’s world UAVs are a very viable technological tool for a number of industries. Now, advances in technological developments have made it possible for a huge variety of drones to be produced in different sizes, weights and capable of holding different payloads and sensors, making them useful for various applications. Police forces, farmers, engineers and filmmakers a like all make use of this incredible technology, and the great advantages they can bring to many tasks.

What does the future hold for UAVs?
As is with many accelerating technologies, it is hard to say what the future holds, but it can be predicted that the mainstream use and demand for drones will continue to rise, and seeing UAVs in the sky will become more common place. The only thing that could hold back to advancement of UAV technology into widespread culture would be the grey area of legalities, and the need for highly skilled drone pilots.

Companies already are working on creating software’s and applications to make the use of drones much safer, eventually adding to the ‘normalisation’ of drones within mainstream society. One example of this is Snapdragon Flight from Qualcomm Technologies – software developed to provide drones with the intelligence to perceive objects within their flight path for a much safer navigation. Simply this one example gives us a glimpse into a future of even more nimble, versatile and safe UAV systems being developed, further expanding the list of uses and applications they could assist with.

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