An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or by several other names, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator, or fully or intermittently autonomously, by onboard computers.

Compared to manned aircraft, UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. They originated mostly in military applications, although their use is expanding in commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing and surveillance, aerial photography, agriculture and drone racing. Civilian drones now vastly outnumber military drones, with estimates of over a million sold by 2015.

The term drone, more widely used by the public, was coined in reference to the resemblance of dumb-looking navigation and loud-and-regular motor sounds of old military unmanned aircraft to the male bee. The term has encountered strong opposition from aviation professionals and government regulators.

“Worker bees can leave.
Even drones can fly away.
The Queen is their slave.”
— Chuck Palahniuk

The term unmanned aircraft system was adopted by the United States Department of Defense and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005 according to their Unmanned Aircraft System Roadmap 2005–2030. The International Civil Aviation Organization and the British Civil Aviation Authority adopted this term, also used in the European Union’s Single-European-Sky  Air-Traffic-Management Research roadmap for 2020. This term emphasizes the importance of elements other than the aircraft. It includes elements such as ground control stations, data links and other support equipment. A similar term is an unmanned-aircraft vehicle system remotely piloted aerial vehicle, remotely piloted aircraft system. Many similar terms are in use.

A UAV is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload”. Therefore, missiles are not considered UAVs because the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, though it is also unmanned and in some cases remotely guided.

The relation of UAVs to remote controlled model aircraft is unclear. UAVs may or may not include model aircraft.[citation needed] Some jurisdictions base their definition on size or weight, however, the US Federal Aviation Administration defines any unmanned flying craft as a UAV regardless of size. A radio-controlled aircraft becomes a drone with the addition of an autopilot artificial intelligence (AI), and ceases to be a drone when the AI is removed.
The earliest attempt at a powered UAV was A. M. Low’s “Aerial Target” in 1916. Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915. Advances followed during and after World War I, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane. The first scaled remote piloted vehicle was developed by film star and model-airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny in 1935. More emerged during World War II – used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions. Nazi Germany produced and used various UAV aircraft during the war. Jet engines entered service after World War II in vehicles such as the Australian GAF Jindivik, and Teledyne Ryan Firebee I of 1951, while companies like Beechcraft offered their Model 1001 for the U.S. Navy in 1955. Nevertheless, they were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam War.

In 1959, the U.S. Air Force, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned aircraft.Planning intensified after the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 in 1960. Within days, a highly classified UAV program started under the code name of “Red Wagon”. The August 1964 clash in the Tonkin Gulf between naval units of the U.S. and North Vietnamese Navy initiated America’s highly classified UAVs

Recommended Articles

Rhumbix modernizes construction field operations, helping builders go paperless in the field and improving how they measure and manage labor productivity. Our Field Intelligence Platform™ is a cloud-based mobile workforce management solution that collects and digitizes data from paper-based workflows. This ensures all project stakeholders have the best data to make better decisions and draw actionable insights.   

Learn more

Field Tools is revolutionary software that allows construction companies to go paperless in the field by managing forms, documents and reports in one location. With our easy to use and customizable submittal tool, companies can track job progress, safety, daily reports and more. All from one dashboard. 

Learn more

Archetype SC is a full-service IT consultancy focused on providing the professional community with solutions for cyber security, digital experience, and data analytics needs. Our solutions include A2 Analytics, which combines a unique package of hardware and software, powered by groundbreaking algorithms to provide precise location, mapping, and traffic data. We also offer a cyber security, risk, and vulnerability assessment product that is tailored to help you understand the risks that your company faces. Our digital experience team will help you identify and rectify inefficiencies through improved technology implementations. 

Learn more

Construction professionals around the world, use Autodesk Software to evaluate and improve the constructability of designs and the project delivery process. With Autodesk field management and virtual construction software, users are able to deliver more effective planning, coordination, and control through greater design insight and project predictability from preconstruction through execution. Autodesk Construction Solutions help contractors and subcontractors leverage the cloud to reduce waste, increase profit margins, produce results faster, and finish projects on budget.

Learn more

Viewpoint is dedicated to the success of contractors by providing construction-specific, collaborative cloud-based solutions for construction accounting, project management and workflow optimization in the field.

Only Viewpoint offers a comprehensive suite of solutions designed to bring your entire organization (Office, Team and Field) together. Rather than one-off software used to solve point problems that doesn’t integrate with other systems, we provide a software suite built from the ground up to provide a level of visibility and control over projects at every step of the process.

Learn more

BuildingConnected is the leading preconstruction platform enabling real estate owners and general contractors to hire qualified contractors for their projects. BuildingConnected’s mission is to connect every business in the $10 trillion construction industry and to strengthen the lives, jobs, and relationships of millions of hardworking construction professionals worldwide. More than $100 billion in new construction is enabled through the BuildingConnected platform every month. From the new Golden State Warriors stadium to local schools and hospitals, BuildingConnected’s tools are helping cities grow and bringing communities together. BuildingConnected’s headquarters are in San Francisco, with a presence in New York, Cincinnati, Toronto, and Chicago.

Learn more

Worksighted provides responsive, innovative, and strategic IT services to businesses seeking a valuable IT partner. Since 2000, the Holland-based firm has supported organizations throughout Michigan with the technology and strategy they need to grow.

Learn more

SPARK Business Works is a software development company focusing on improving Business Management and Operational Flow by building Mobile Apps, Dashboards, and Workflow Tools. SPARK serves trade contractors that want to maximize gains from the use of technology to improve workflow, process, and overall business management. SPARK has offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Metro Detroit.

Learn more

Procore is a leading provider of cloud-based applications for construction. Procore connects people, applications, and devices through a unified platform to help construction professionals manage risk and build quality projects—safely, on time, and within budget.

Learn more

PlanGrid is a new breed of construction productivity software used on more than one million projects around the world. We are the first to provide contractors and owners in commercial, heavy civil and residential construction the tools they need to collaborate effectively and collect and manage project information throughout the project’s construction and operations lifespan.

PlanGrid increases team productivity by: streamlining document management and control, providing collaborators with easy access to all project information from any device, and enabling seamless collaboration.

Learn more

We are an Outsource Risk Management Company and Independent Insurance agency focused on delivering the best service to our customers. Our passion for innovative strategies helps customers overcome risk, delivering greater peace of mind and lower cost.

Learn more

ManufactOn is a SaaS (mobile/web) platform that helps construction firms plan, track and optimize both prefabrication and regular material management. It is the only tool of its kind specifically built from the ground up with off-site construction in mind. As an always-on, real-time portal into the prefab process, ManufactOn saves contractors time and reduces risk by facilitating collaboration, speeding up communication and ensuring accuracy and timeliness of the end-to-end construction supply chain.

Learn more

Kerkstra Precast, your source for superior precast concrete products serving Michigan, Indiana, Ohio & Illinois. Kerkstra Precast specializes in structural and architectural precast for countless building types as well as infrastructure products. The unique architectural design, versatility and structural integrity make precast the optimum choice for commercial, industrial and residential structures. From our hollow core flooring systems to wall panels to a total precast concrete structure, thousands of building owners are already experiencing the quiet, secure, long-lasting and low maintenance benefits of building with precast concrete.

Learn more

Hilti is a world-leading manufacturer and supplier of quality, innovative and specialized tools, software and fastening systems for the professional user. Hilti expertise covers the areas of powder actuated fastening, drilling and demolition, diamond coring and cutting, measuring, firestopping, screw fastening, adhesive and mechanical anchoring, and strut and hanger systems.

Learn more

BuildingPoint Midwest, is dedicated to improving productivity for the construction industry through advanced and intuitive technologies. Our portfolio of Trimble™ solutions streamlines communication and collaboration throughout the Design-Build-Operate (DBO) lifecycle to realize greater efficiency and profitability. Through the adoption of our advanced software, hardware and service offerings, general contractors and construction managers, architects, structural professionals and building owners realize greater efficiency and profitability.

Learn more

Assignar is a cloud-based SaaS platform built for construction subcontractors and self-perform general contractors (GCs) to improve visibility into field operations; manage project scheduling including the workforce, assets and materials for projects; and ensure safety, quality, and compliance processes. While many subcontractors today rely on paper, Excel spreadsheets and single-point solutions to track people, assets, materials, certifications, orientations and forms, Assignar provides them with digital and mobile tools to enable project scheduling, job tracking, checklists, compliance, and communication; all in real-time.

Learn more

The ARC Technology Suite offers your company access to the highest levels of software and hardware solutions and provides any size company a competitive advantage in the AEC community. With over 180 locations in North America, ARC is a trusted solutions partner capable of supporting your business throughout the project lifecycle. Whether you need us locally or Nationally we are here to contribute to your success.

Learn more