What Exactly is a UAV?

A UAV is an unmanned aerial vehicle, which is an aircraft without a human pilot onboard. They are also sometimes called drones. UAVs were first used in military missions that were classified as too dangerous, dull, or dirty for human pilots.

Their use has since expanded to include police work, search and rescue operations, and even commercial photography and videography.

UAVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small quadcopters that can fit in the palm of your hand to large fixed-wing aircraft. They can be controlled by a human operator using a remote control, or they can be programmed to fly autonomously.

The use of UAVs has increased dramatically in recent years, thanks to advances in technology that have made them more affordable and easier to use. As the technology continues to improve, it’s likely that we’ll see even more innovative and practical applications for UAVs in the future.

History of UAVs

The first recorded use of an unmanned aerial vehicle for warfighting took place in July 1849, with a balloon carrier. Austrian forces attempting to besiege Venice dropped 200 incendiary balloons over the city. The balloons were launched mainly from the land; however, some were also launched from the Austrian ship SMS Vulcano.

At least one bomb fell in the city; however, due to the wind changing after launch, most of the balloons missed their target, and some drifted back over Austrian lines and the launching ship Vulcano.

The United States military began experimenting with drone technology in the early 1900s in order to create training targets.

World War I

In 1915, Nikola Tesla wrote about unmanned aerial combat vehicles. In 1916, A.M. Low successfully completed the first self-propelled drone as an aerial target. The Dayton-Wright Airplane Company’s first pilotless torpedo was developed during World War I.

Companies sought to develop drone technology after World War I when engineers designed the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane and the Kettering bug, an unmanned aerial torpedo.

World War II

During World War II, both Allied and German forces utilized drones to train aircraft gunners and assist in operations. Following the conclusion of the war, drone creators began experimenting with jet motors in areas like the Australian GAF Jindivik and Model 10001 produced for the US Navy by Beechcraft.

The Vietnam War

The United States Air Force began employing unmanned aircraft to minimize pilot fatalities over hostile territory in the early years of the conflict.

U.S. investment in and use of drone technology throughout Vietnam and for naval operations began in the late 1960s, though most of these operations were secret.

The 80s, & 90s

The technology didn’t get much attention until the 1980s and 1990s when the United States military started to devote significant resources to it. In the 1990s, the Department of Defense gave AAI Corp and Israel-based Malat contracts to develop more advanced drone systems, which resulted in less expensive technologies.

In the mid-nineties, the United States government launched The Predator campaign, which resulted in the MQ-1 Predator with a Hellfire anti-tank missile on its wings. It paved the way for the MQ-9 Reaper in 2007.


Drones are becoming increasingly popular among consumers and general aviation users, thanks to the evolution of smart technologies and enhanced electrical-power systems. The continuous innovation in quadcopter drones is one of the main indicators that this technology will continue to grow in popularity.

Lidar, cameras, and other sensors are now commonplace on these machines. As of 2021, quadcopter drones show the widespread popularity of hobby radio-controlled planes and toys.

UAVs have also been used in NASA operations. The Dragonfly spacecraft is being developed, and it will attempt to reach and study Saturn’s moon Titan. Its major aim is to fly around the surface, expanding the area that has already been surveyed bylanders.

Dragonfly’s capabilities as an unmanned aircraft allow it to scan soil samples that would otherwise be inaccessible. The drone is intended to go into service in 2027, and it will take around seven years to get there.

UAV Designs

The primary distinction between unmanned planes and manned airplanes is the lack of a cockpit area and windows. Some varieties, on the other hand, are developed from piloted prototypes or enable optional piloting or unmanned operational modes.

Unmanned aircraft are less safety-sensitive than manned aircraft, allowing the designer greater leeway to explore. As a result of these two aspects, UAVs have evolved into a wide range of airframe and engine types.

The flying wing and blended wing body are two popular aircraft designs. They feature lightweight with low drag and stealth, making them ideal for conventional flight. Larger aircraft with a varying payload are more likely to have a different fuselage, tail, and wing for stability, control, and trim. However, the types in use vary significantly.

The tailless quadcopter, on the other hand, needs a simple control system for vertical flight. However, the mechanism does not scale well to larger aircraft that employs a conventional single rotor with collective and cyclic pitch control along with a stabilizing tail rotor.

How do UAVs Work

Most UAVs are powered by electric motors, although some smaller models may use gasoline engines. The motors turn propellers that provide lift, allowing the UAV to take off and fly.

UAVs are typically controlled using a remote control unit, which is similar to the one you would use to operate a model airplane or helicopter. The operator uses the remote control to pilot the UAV and can see what the UAV’s onboard camera is seeing using a video link.

Some UAVs are equipped with GPS systems, which allow them to be flown autonomously. This means that once they’ve been programmed with a flight plan, they can fly without any input from the operator.

This is useful for missions where it would be difficult or dangerous for a human operator to be present, such as search and rescue operations in remote areas.

What are UAVs Used For

UAVs have a variety of practical applications. They can be used for surveillance, to take photographs or videos, or to gather other types of data.

UAVs have been used by the military for many years, and they’re now becoming increasingly popular with police departments and other law enforcement agencies. They can be used to provide an overview of a large area or to follow suspects without being detected.

Search and rescue teams have also started using UAVs to help find missing people. They can cover a large area quickly and can often get to places that would be inaccessible to humans.

UAVs are also being used more and more for commercial purposes. Aerial photography and videography are becoming increasingly popular, and UAVs are the perfect tool for getting amazing shots that would otherwise be impossible to get.

The Future of UAVs

As the technology continues to improve, it’s likely that we’ll see even more innovative and practical applications for UAVs in the future. The possibilities are endless, and it’s exciting to think about all of the ways that UAVs will continue to change the way we live and work.