Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that were first developed for military use.
Increasingly, however, drones are used for domestic police work in the United States, which led former Texas Department of Agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower to warn about potential privacy abuses from aerial surveillance.
Add to this the news that they’ve now developed a drone that can use its arms to turn a valve, which also means the drone can turn door knobs.
Some facts about drones from Wikipedia:
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Its flight is controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle.
An armed UAV is known as an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
Drones are usually deployed for military and special operation applications, but also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as policing, border patrol, forest fire detection and firefighting, and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of power lines and pipelines. Other uses include aerial surveying of crops, acrobatic aerial footage in filmmaking, search and rescue operations, counting wildlife, delivering medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions, search & rescue missions, detection of illegal hunting, land surveying, large-accident investigation, landslide measurement, illegal landfill detection, and crowd monitoring.
The birth of U.S. UAVs began in 1959 when Air Force officers, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned flights. On 26 February 1973, during testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, the U.S. military officially confirmed they had been utilizing UAVs in Vietnam.
There are two prominent UAV programs within the United States:
- Military: The government’s overt UAV program that only operates where US troops are stationed.
- CIA: The government’s clandestine drone program that conducts missions also in places where US troops are not stationed. The CIA’s UAV program was commissioned as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This clandestine program is primarily being used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
In February 2013, it was reported that UAVs were used by at least 50 countries, several of which made their own: for example, Iran, Israel and China.
As of 2008, the United States Air Force employed 5,331 UAVs, which is twice its number of manned planes. Out of these, the Predators are the most commendable, with the following capabilities:
- The Predator is armed with Hellfire missiles so that it can “terminate” the target that it locates.
- The Predator is capable of orchestrating attacks by pointing lasers at the targets, thereby putting a robot in a position to set off an attack.
- From June 2005 to June 2006 alone, Predators carried out 2,073 missions and participated in 242 separate raids.
As of August 2013, commercial drones (unmanned aerial system – UAS) licenses were granted on a case-by-case basis, subject to approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The agency expects that five years after it unveils a regulatory framework for UASs weighing 55 pounds or less, there will be 7,500 such devices in the air.