Interesting Facts about Drones

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Drone technology has advanced at an exponential rate during the past few years. It is no longer just for drone enthusiasts and hobbyists, but is now being integrated into a huge array of different industries. From photography to search and rescue, drones are now setting trends in many areas. However, how well do you actually know what drones are? Surely you know that they are unmanned aerial vehicles, typically controlled by remote control or GPS/automatic systems.

Let’s check out some interesting facts about drones:

1. Drones were Initially Developed for Military Purposes

Attack Drones are controlled by More Than One Person

Although drones are now more popular among hobbyists and are also used for commercial purposes, they were initially made for military use. The intention was to design a machine that was able to reach places where other mode of transport didn’t work such as where sending a helicopter was too dangerous and could risk the life of pilots.

2. The US and Israel are at the Forefront and the Biggest Producers

Israel is at the Forefront of Drone Technology Development

In the new world of UAVs and drones, the US and Israel lead the pack and are the biggest producers as well as sellers of the technology. There are many countries that have armed drones, but never used them. Then there are countries that not only produce drones, but also have used them and sell to other countries. The US produces its lethal MQ-9, while Israel is known for its IAI Heron. In terms of exports, Israel leads and accounts for a little over 40 percent of all exports. [1]

3. US Citizens Own the Most Civilian Drones

US Citizens Own the Most Civilian Drones

The FAA estimates that there are more than 850,000 registered drones for recreational flying in the United States. If you take into account the number of drones used by hobbyists that require registration, the total number will be much higher, making the US the country with the most civilian drones. The FAA requires that all drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) be registered. Drone owners who do not register their devices with the FAA risk fines of $27,500 and/or up to three years imprisonment. [2] [3]

4. There’s a Racing League Called Drone Racing League

There’s a Racing League Called Drone Racing League

Established in 2015, the Drone Racing League (DRL) is a global drone racing league that has experienced rapid growth in the past few years. DRL racing events are broadcasted by 13 sports networks in over 140 countries. Rachel Jacobson, the DRL president, believes that they have just started and thee should be nothing stopping the platform from becoming a multi-billion industry in future. [4]

5. A Drone Crashed Onto the White House Lawn in January 2015

A Drone Crashed Onto the White House Lawn in January 2015

The most newsworthy drone incident was a small, recreational quadcopter that flew through restricted airspace and crashed on the lawn of the White House. Investigation revealed that it was just an accident that didn’t pose any threat to anyone. The drone was too small to be detected by the radar and made its way through security systems.

Shawn Usman, an employee at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency did not face any criminal charges for accidently crashing a Phantom FC40 drone. The drone stopped responding to his commands and eventually fell onto the lawn of the White House [5].

6. Cost of Making Predator and Reaper

Cost of Making Predator and Reaper

Making the Predator and Reaper drones is a very expensive endeavor. The cost of making one Predator-B drone has been estimated at $7 million in 1997, while the Reaper had a price tag of $14 million in 2008. The price of a new Reaper is estimated to be around $32millon, which is even higher than the top-tier Apache attack helicopter.

7. Drones can Reach Places That Were Previously Inaccessible

Drones can Reach Places That Were Previously Inaccessible

Drones can reach places that were previously inaccessible. They are safer than humans in dangerous situations. The same applies to telecommunications, mining operations, and oil rigs.

The drone can map out the entire infrastructure of a mine. It can also monitor the health of equipment in real-time. Drones can also be used for inspecting power lines and pipelines. As a result, companies can do their tasks with less cost and manpower, without risking the lives of those involved in such operations.

8. You cannot Fly in No Drone Zones

You cannot Fly in No Drone Zones

Before operating a drone, you should familiarize yourself with the areas where unmanned aircraft are prohibited. In the United States, these areas are called restricted airspace and are monitored by the FAA as “No Drone Zones.” These zones include restricted airspace, areas where you are not allowed to take-off or land a drone and areas where there are temporary flight restrictions. No Drones Zones are marked with a sign, which is not meant for private landowners.

9. Police Do Not Need a Warrant to Use a Drone

Police Do Not Need a Warrant to Use a Drone

The drone has become an established tool in the police’s arsenal. These machines are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, which means that local law enforcement can use them for a variety of purposes — including surveillance. But, police do not need the warrant to fly a drone. As long as the drone is flying in public airspace, there’s nothing to prevent law enforcement from using it without getting a court order first. [6]

However, one of the biggest concerns about police drones is their effect on privacy. If a drone is flying over your home, it could easily monitor your activity — even if you’re inside your house. While the Fourth Amendment protects your home against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” it doesn’t apply when you’re in public.

10. Armed Drones Were Made for a Purpose

Armed Drones Were Made for a Purpose

Undoubtedly, armed drones have been the most important invention in the last few years decades. They have changed the whole concept of warfare and have made it extremely easy to counter threats. Armed drones have become so common now that they can be seen in almost all parts of the world. Therefore, it is not surprising to see them being used by different countries.

The most common use of drones is to help in surveillance activities. This means that they are used for spying on other people or things. These activities help gather intelligence and other important information that the military can use to track down their enemies or stop them from getting into trouble. [7]

11. You Can Find Drones As Small As A Bee And As Large As A Helicopter

You Can Find Drones As Small As A Bee And As Large As A Helicopter

Some drones are small enough to sit on your palm, while others can be larger than a truck. This is because drones are used for different purposes, and the weight of the drone depends on its purpose and size.

Drones are mainly used for photography and videography, although some drones are used for surveillance, delivery of goods and services, monitoring hazards and weather conditions, etc. Military drones tend to be much bigger than hobbyist drones.

Although there exist tiny-sized drones too, they don’t look a lot like regular drones and are not widely available. SKEYE Pico Drone made by TRNDlabs (Dutch company) is considered to be the smallest drone weighing only 0.25 ounces and measuring 0.87 by 0.87 inches. It’s available for a reasonable price on Amazon.

12. Drones are used for Patrolling

Drones are used for Patrolling

Drones aren’t just used by the US army. They have been used by the US and other governments to patrol borders to prevent the smuggling of illegal aliens, drugs, and weapons into the country. In addition, drones also help find lost hikers and missing persons by carrying heat sensors and infrared equipment. They also use drones in the US airspace for border patrolling.

13. Human Rights Activists are Highly against Drones

Human Rights Activists are Highly against Drones

Many human rights activists are highly against drones because they threaten their privacy and personal life. These drones can easily intrude into one’s personal life and invade people’s privacy. Government can use these drones for their benefit and can monitor the activities of the common people without their knowledge.

According to current statistics published by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (2010-2020), between 8,800 to 17,000 people were killed in drone strikes out of which 1,200-2,600 were civilians and children. These numbers only represent drone strikes carried out by the US and only accounts for data since the Bureau started recording it, and only for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. [8]

14. Drones Can Interfere with Aircrafts

Drones May Interfere with Aircraft

Drones have interfered with aircrafts both in the air and on the ground. They have been sucked into plane engines and crashed into plane wings, and some have flown directly into the path of airplanes. Drones can be especially dangerous to helicopters, which fly at lower altitudes than airplanes.

A total of 921 incidents were recorded in 2014-2015 alone, out of which 327 were close encounters (within 500-feet). That’s the reason the FAA does not allow flying a drone within the five kilometers radius of an airport in America without getting permission to do so from the air traffic control. [9]

15. Drone Accidents in the USA

Drone Accidents in the USA

Below is a list of some notable drone accidents that have occurred in the USA:

  • In January 2015, a drone crashed on the White House lawn.
  • In 2016, a drone almost collided with an Air France Airbus A320. [10]
  • A drone crashed into the stands at the US Open tennis tournament in September 2015. [11]
  • A drone crashed into a crowd during a parade in Seattle in June 2015. [12]

According to Dronelife, there were around 385 drone accidents in the USA in 2017. [13]

16. DJI is the Largest Drone Provider in the US

DJI is the Largest Drone Provider in the US

Holding around 76% of the American market, the Chinese company DJI is the largest drone provider in the US. Recently, the US government banned the sale and use of Chinese drones by the government agencies. However, the ban did not make any major dent in sales as it still remains the top choice for hobbyists and professionals (they can still buy and use its products). DJI’s core product is the Phantom line of drones, which are perfect for hobbyists and professionals alike. They are the pioneer in this industry and one of the biggest global players. [14]

17. Many Americans Own a Drone

Many Americans Own a Drone

Although drones have been around for a long time, it was not until recently that they became popular with the public. This is because, until recently, drones were used mainly by the military and law enforcement agencies. Nowadays, drones are used for different purposes such as inspection, recreation, and photography. 

In a survey by Philly by Air 2020, it was found that there are over two million drones in use across America out of which 1.3 million were being used for recreational purposes. The survey also revealed that about 14 percent Americans have flown a drone. [15]

18. There are more Recreational Drones than Commercial Ones

There are more Recreational Drones than Commercial Ones

Recreational drones are typically marketed as RTF (ready to fly) and BNF (bind-and-fly) drones. The former means that the drone comes with everything you need to start flying, and the latter means that the drone does not come with remote control.

According to FAA stats (as of January 2021), drones registered as recreational outnumber drones registered as commercial (1.3 million vs. 0.5 million). Only 208,010 of those drone owners are certified remote pilots.

19. Benefits in Agriculture

Benefits in Agriculture

Farmers used to monitor their crops from ground level using binoculars in the recent past. Drones have made it possible for farmers to survey and monitor their crops from a close range and at a low cost. It is now possible for farmers to detect areas that require fertilizer application and also identify specific plants that are infested with pests. 

Farmers could save about $1.3 billion a year by using drones, especially farmers who have to manage thousands or hundreds of acres of land. Drones help them find and even treat the spread of a disease, optimize pesticide delivery and monitor yield. [16]

20. Drones Can Save a lot of Costs

Drones Can Save a lot of Costs

Drones enable companies to do their jobs much more cost-effectively than before. With the use of drones, companies can now send their UAVs instead of human beings to perform tasks such as inspecting cellular towers, bridges, or pipelines. This saves these companies a lot of money by eliminating the need for manpower and risking their precious lives.

Conclusion

Drones are used in multiple aspects of life, from war to films to photography. They are just as fascinating as they are controversial. No matter what you think about their use, it’s inarguable that these flying machines have changed the world and will continue to be at the forefront of technological innovation for generations to come

References

  1. World of drones. (n.d.). New America. https://www.newamerica.org/international-security/reports/world-drones/introduction-how-we-became-a-world-of-drones/
  2. S.: Drone registrations by category 2022. (2022, April 11). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1221517/uas-drone-registrations-united-states/
  3. How to register your drone | Federal aviation administration. (2022, June 3). https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/register_drone/
  4. LoRé, M. (2022, February 22). Drone racing league doubles broadcast reach thanks to growing global interest. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellore/2022/02/21/drone-racing-league-doubles-broadcast-reach-thanks-to-growing-global-interest/
  5. Greenwood, F. (n.d.). Man who crashed drone on White House lawn won’t be charged, says he wasn’t trying to impress a date. Slate Magazine. https://slate.com/technology/2015/03/white-house-lawn-drone-the-man-who-crashed-it-there-won-t-be-charged.html
  6. (n.d.). Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems. https://jlsp.law.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2017/03/48-Matiteyahu.pdf
  7. In bin Laden’s death, CIA drones played their part. (n.d.). Wilson Center. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/bin-ladens-death-cia-drones-played-their-part
  8. Drone warfare. (n.d.). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (en-GB). https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/projects/drone-war
  9. Dan Gettinger, Arthur Holland Michel. (2015). Drone Sightings and Close Encounters: An Analysis[Doctoral dissertation]. https://dronecenter.bard.edu/files/2015/12/12-11-Drone-Sightings-and-Close-Encounters.pdf
  10. French Airbus plane narrowly avoids collision with drone. (n.d.). CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/04/french-airbus-plane-narrowly-avoids-collision-with-drone.html
  11. Talanova, J. (2015, September 5). Drone slams into seating area at U.S. open; teacher arrested. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2015/09/04/us/us-open-tennis-drone-arrest/index.html
  12. Falling drone knocks woman out at Seattle pride parade. (2015, June 30). CBS News – Breaking news, 24/7 live streaming news & top stories. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/falling-drone-knocks-woman-out-seattle-pride-parade/
  13. McNabb, M. (2019, August 20). Diving into the FAA administrator’s fact book: Why “Drone incidents” are concerning for regulators. DRONELIFE. https://dronelife.com/2019/08/19/diving-into-the-faa-administrators-fact-book-why-drone-incidents-are-concerning-for-regulators/
  14. Drone market shares in the USA after China-US disputes. (2022, October 17). Drone Industry Insights. https://droneii.com/drone-market-shares-usa-after-china-usa-disputes
  15. S. drone survey reveals intriguing trends. (2020, July 28). Philly By Air. https://www.phillybyair.com/blog/drone-study/
  16. Doering, C., & The Des Moines Register. (2015, July 21). The Des Moines register. DesMoines. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2015/07/21/drones-farm-savings-agriculture-millions/30486487/

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