The sky is a now place not only for birds and planes but also for drones – a.k.a. unmanned aerial vehicles. If you own at least one of the best drones in the market, you probably know some basic facts about it. You may also know some of the helpful uses of it, like for agriculture and law enforcement. But how well do you really know this technology? Here are some interesting facts about drones that you should know:
1. The first ever drone was built in Israel.
In 1973, the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) developed the first drone, the IAI Scout, which worked as unmanned surveillance machines for military purposes. Today, Israel is the biggest exporter for defense drones and drone technologies in the world. The IAI has been selling to more than two dozen countries around the globe. The country is also one of the largest manufacturer of drones besides the United States, while other countries tried to build their own but most failed due to poor technology.
2. The first armed drones were built to assassinate notorious terrorists.
During the turn of the new millennium, the armed Predator drone searched for Osama Bin Laden. A month after the 9/11 attacks, the MQ-1 Predator has attacked the military chief of al-Qaida, Mohammed Atef, by bombing his home in Afghanistan. It was the first known killing using an armed drone.
3. The number of lives taken away by drones is alarming because it is relatively unknown.
From June 2004 to September 2012, the estimated number of killings in Pakistan caused by drones was around 2,662 to 3,325, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Of these people, around 474 to 881 people were civilians, including 176 children. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) do not disclose when and where they strike targets, so the exact number of casualties is difficult to discover.
4. In 2020, the government expects 30,000 drones flying in the nation’s skies.
Upon the enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012, which ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones in 2015, the FAA projected that 30,000 drones would be overhead the US by 2020. In fact, a consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers has reported that the value of the commercial drone industry can balloon to as much as $127 billion by 2020 from $2 billion in 2016.
5. Drones are prohibited from all US national parks, and you can be tasered for violating it.
So, you have one of those top-rated drones that flyers are dying to have? Resist the urge to show off when going to national parks. Flying drones are banned by the National Park Service within all national parks in the country since 2015 due to safety and noise concerns. This no-drone rule applies for an area of over 84 million acres throughout the United States. This rule was triggered by a 2014 incident when a tourist crashed a quadcopter into Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring, and the drone was never found. Eventually, park rangers were tasering drone pilots who can’t be stopped from operating a drone by confrontation.
6. There is a drone big enough to transport a human.
Last year, Chinese drone maker Ehang launched the first drone ever capable of carrying a person. It looks like a small helicopter that contains four doubled propellers like typical drones. The electric-powered quadcopter can be fully charged in two hours, carry up to 220 pounds and fly for 23 minutes. The drone cost $200,000 to $300,000 when it was unveiled.
7. Before Amazon and Google began to incorporate the use of drones to improve their services, a drone delivery startup was already using them to deliver goods.
Matternet, a drone start-up company from Silicon Valley, has deployed its own delivery drone technology in some of the world’s hard-to-reach areas. The company’s drone technology was used in delivering medical supplies and diagnostic tools in areas like Bhutan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, and the Dominican Republic. Its aircraft were proved adept at delivering medicine and retrieving medical samples to places that are often inaccessible due to poor roads, bad weather, and other issues.
8. Drones are being used to protect elephants from poachers.
Poaching of elephants is a problem in Kenya, as some Asian nationalities illegally gather elephant ivory to sell for as much as $1,000 per kilogram. Conservationists at Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve used Google Earth and drones to keep elephants away from danger and human conflict areas. A team of conservationists lead by Marc Goss modified drones to release paintballs loaded with capsaicin, the active component in chili pepper when the elephants stray near high-risk zones. Goss said that drones are the future of conservation as it can do the tasks of 50 rangers.
9. Insect-sized drones are being developed to search for earthquake and other disaster victims.
The TU Delft University in the Netherlands created the smallest ornithopter drone with camera. The purpose of the technology was to understand insect flight and discover their capabilities. Moreover, the craft was developed for practical applications, like flying through cracks in concrete to search for earthquake victims or exploring buildings contaminated with radioactivity. The military and spy agencies also see the potential of the tiny drones as spies and scouts.
10. Before the existence of camera drones, cameras were attached to kites.
During the turn of the 20th century, a commercial photographer from Chicago named George R. Lawrence pioneered unmanned aerial photography. Lawrence specialized in panoramic photography, which was “impossible” that time as cameras were too bulky to bring hundreds of feet off the ground. What he did was use multiple kites, ranging from nine to 17 to lift his big, specialized panoramic camera up to 2,000 feet in the air. He added bamboo stabilizing arms and ran a steel piano wire from the ground up to carry electrical current that would activate the camera shutter. This attracted the interest of the military, which later on used camera drones for surveillance purposes.
We can say that drones are still relatively new as a flying machine with a future full of possibilities. You can experience the feel of using it by trying out some commercial drones in the market. Before testing out these quadcopters, always refer first to drone reviews so that you may have background knowledge at first in order to get the top-rated drones that will be worth your money.