Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or drones are any aircraft that can we can operate without any human pilots or crew on board. They are usually controlled remotely. Back then, UAVs were used for military purposes. The raid of Osama Bin Laden is a perfect example of a successful drone operation. But nowadays, you can see a lot of people who use drones. There are some facts about drones that make them so attractive for so many people. In fact, we can use drones for commercial and entertainment purposes like filming, journalism, photography, and others. Even football and basketball matches use drones to help the crew get a better angle in the games.
We know that drones are really cool. If you watch a lot of action movies about spies, you’ll notice how highly advanced drones are, and what potentials that they can bring. But just like everything else in this world, there’s always something more than meets the eye. If you want to learn more about drones, don’t go anywhere, because we’re going to bring up some fascinating facts about drones, just for you!
1. Who Actually Invented Drones?
When we talk about the facts about drones, it would be best to know who invented them. However, the long history of drones can sometimes be confusing. In fact, the title of “drone inventor” falls across several names. Some people credited it to Nikola Tesla. Back in the 1890s, Tesla had already begun to envision a technology that could be controlled remotely. In 1898, he successfully made a 4-foot-long boat that humans can control remotely via airwaves.
Reginald Denny is a name that also comes to mind, and his nickname was the “Prince of Drones”. Denny was an actor who had an avid interest in developing unmanned aircrafts. In 1935, he succeeded in creating the first ever civilian drone. The most popular figure, however, is Abraham Karem. He was responsible for the making of the drone “Amber”. ‘Drone Daddy” is the nickname of this drone, as it becomes the blueprint towards modern UAVs.
2. Drones Can Crash, and They Crash a Lot!
We’ve spoken about how drones look so cool in action movies. Perhaps, you see some drones that can fly and maneuver in such precision to achieve their goals. However, real-life drones aren’t that advanced yet. The high number of crashes can be down to several reasons, such as bad signals, inferior technology, or lack of pilot experience. There’s a lot of data and reports about the high numbers of drones crashing and failing. In fact, almost 60% of drone pilots have experienced a crash at least once.
Another data suggests that out of all the drone crashes reported in the United States, almost 70% of them came from the army. On average, at least two military drones crashed every month. This can be a little worrying, considering that they carried weapons and have the potential to hurt civilians. Well, what an interesting fact about drones, right?
3. Drones Can Fly as Much as 10km High, But You Shouldn’t Do That!
Different drones have their own abilities and limitations. However, an average drone can fly as much as 10km high, though you also need to consider some aspects like signal. Although they are capable of achieving such an astounding feat, you should never try to do that! As a matter of fact, most countries have their own regulations about the altitude limit of a drone.
In Europe, you can only fly them for 500 feet. In the US, however, drones cannot fly for more than 400 feet. These rules are applied to prevent any unwanted collisions with other aircrafts. We don’t want a repeat of the Tallahassee incident, where an airplane nearly collided with a stealth drone.
4. The World’s Smallest Drone
From time to time, people have produced drones in smaller sizes. Small drones are beneficial because they are lightweight, hence making them easier to maneuver and move in certain places. But the Axis Vidius really takes things to a whole new level. It is the world’s smallest quadcopter with a camera, measuring less than 1.5 inches. The Axis Vidius also weighs less than 0.55 pounds, so you don’t need to register it to the FAA!
5. Drones Really Help in Transporting Medicines to Remote Places
Moving on to the next fact about drones in the list, drones aren’t always used for military purposes. In fact, current drones have advanced technology that they can help health organizations to transport medical supplies to various remote places. They are small and nimble enough to pass through several extreme terrains that humans and normal vehicles couldn’t do. As an example, people are using drones to carry HIV treatments to Africa.
6. Too Many Drones in the World
Since its invention, drones have never looked back anymore. Just look at how many drones you see everyday, just hovering around the sky. It’s surprising to know that there are millions of drones worldwide. Statista reports that in 2020, the total number of drone shipments worldwide amounts to 5 million units! That’s crazy and understandable at the same time, considering drones can make people’s daily activities become much easier.
In the United States alone, there are more than 850,000 drones registered to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). 321,000 of them are registered as commercial drones, while more than 529,000 units are recognized as recreational drones. These numbers really show us that people are enjoying and relying on drones for many activities, and this is a fact since we are living in the digital era.
7. Drones and Its Effect in the Environment
This is a serious matter that has become a talking point for many people. Some might suggest that drones have played a huge part in saving the planet, while others disagree with the idea. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin!
- Positive impact: Drones help scientists to gather more data around certain species’ populations, which really help them to understand more about the challenges and steps necessary to save endangered species. Drones are sustainable too, as people can use them as a cleaner alternative of delivering items.
- Negative impact: The same wildlife protection that they’re trying to achieve can sometimes backfire, because drones can disturb various habitats, too.
8. The First Ever Drone Casualty Recorded in 2002
Before the fast development of modern drones, they were primarily used for military purposes. Worldwide military forces have admitted to using UAVs as a way to spy and monitor certain situations. However, they were never meant to be used as deadly weapons, at least not until 2002. Back then, the USA launched the first ever targeted drone strike and killed six Al Qaeda members in Yemen.
The successful operation leads to more drone strikes in the coming future. Unfortunately, civilians also get caught in the crossfire. Between 2004 to 2013, there has been a reported number of 4,061 deaths in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Some of them are also civilians. Here’s to hoping that the military learns from these mistakes and starts to develop a more precision drone.
9. Autonomous Killer Drones Exists: Here’s the Kargu-2
We have learned from quite some time that autonomous drones exist due to the advanced AI (artificial intelligence). They will be able to carry out several missions without any control from pilots. But recently, there’s a Turkish drone, dubbed “Kargu-2”, that was able to attack humans without human supervision.
The Kargu-2 was made as a means of counter-insurgencies. Fortunately, the Kargu-2 has never made any attempt to directly injure or kill any human. However, the possibility of having autonomous weapons definitely raises a serious ethical question, which is still under discussion internationally: should we let autonomous weapon systems run loose?
10. 3,281 Remember that Number!
Fact number 10 is probably one of the coolest facts about drones. Now, let’s forget about all the horrors and threats that killer drones pose. After all, they are able to create wonders too. In 2021, luxury automotive brand GENESIS broke the Guinness World Records title for “the most UAVs airborne simultaneously”. In total, there’s up to 3,281 drones that were airborne at the same time. Those drones flew and did some series of performances. Before wrapping up, those drones gathered around to create the GENESIS emblem!
11. EHang 184, the Most Expensive Passenger-carrying Drone
When we think about drones, we always imagine them to be small devices that are able to fly around, right? However, there has been some research to develop UAVs that are able to carry passengers, just like normal airplanes. The EHang 184 is a good example of that. Consequently, it is also the most expensive passenger-carrying drone, as it costs around 300,000 USD. Currently, this model has been replaced by the new EHang 116.
12. Drones are So Popular That They Have a Racing League
Back in its early inception, no one would ever thought that drones can be used for racing purposes? After all, their main purpose was to fly and assist the military in overseeing certain missions. But with the arrival of commercial and recreational drones, people start to think out of the box. Hence, we can find many people conduct the Drones Racing League, or DRL, anywhere nowadays.
Since its inception in 2015, DRL has been one of the most entertaining events for you to enjoy or participate in. Racers will build custom racing drones and race through the most insane tracks in order to become the champion. It’s so cool and you should check it out for yourself.
13. Drones are Becoming Popular, but it Imposes Privacy Risks
Drones are getting more popular than ever. You can even buy cheap drones and use them for different kinds of purposes. However, it really raises an eyebrow because there can always be privacy violations when using drones. Most UAVs have cameras and microphones. That’s the reason why people are getting nervous. One day, you can talk about your neighbor with your friend and have that conversation recorded by a nearby drone. It’s scary when you think about it.
One of the latest cases about drones that violates privacy was found last year. In 2021, a couple in Michigan said that a drone breached their privacy when it was flying through their backyard and taking photos without the consent of the couples. Eventually, the court ruled 2-1 in favor of the couple.
There are some privacy laws that are still under discussion, but it doesn’t mean that all people will be responsible enough to obey them. In the mean time, all we can do is be a responsible user that respects other people’s privacy. Now that you know about 15 facts about drones, if you manage to find someone who’s trying to do bad things with drones, please try to report them to the authorities.