What Really is a “Drone”?

It was not until the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US that drones became very popular. They were originally designed for military purposes, particularly for surveillance. A drone is a male honeybee, except, in this case, the word means Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The point is that these aircraft do not carry crew or passengers. So, what really is a drone?

What is a Drone

Drones have been around since the early 20th century, but the use of “drones” to imply UAVs is fairly recent. A drone is a remotely controlled aircraft with varying weights from a few grams to over 150kg. Despite the size, they can be classified based on the number of propellers, the range they cover, and the equipment on each. 

Various drones are engineered for specific purposes. The key among them is aerial data collection. For instance, close-range UAVs are essential for filmmakers. You can remotely pilot these drones up to 50km away. An example is the DJI Air 2S, which can go 5000 meters up.

Mid-range and long-range drones can achieve significant distances (up to 650km) and are convenient for intelligence gathering, meteorological research, and scientific studies. 

DJI Air 2S

Drone technologies

That the drone can stay aloft for long hours without getting noticed means that you can use them to collect real-time, high-quality data and images. Consider the most expensive drone on the planet, the Northrop Grumman X-47B. It can even refuel on its own. The Northrop Grumman X-47B exhibited successful demonstrations and is currently used by the US navy pending further development.


However, not all drones are combat drones.  UAVs like the PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 are the most intelligent drones designed for agriculture. The Lancaster 5 can adjust to unpredictable environmental elements and carry various payloads. Since it is designed to withstand hard landings on rugged terrain, the PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5 is suited for multiple industries.

Why are drones important?

You can use drones in agriculture, emergency management, energy, forestry, and insurance. In other words, drones can be particularly essential for businesses. If integrated into the business, drones can improve workflow and promote sustainability and profitability. 

For instance, drones in film and television have made the collection of aerial footage cheap. It is also easy to pilot a drone to inspect hard-to-reach areas.

Currently, drones can collect image and video data and use it to plan their flight path. Nevertheless, they do not all have robotic arms to collect physical objects except when used in deliveries. However, advances in drone technologies are making it possible. In 2016, PRODRONE launched the world’s first dual robot arm on the PD6B-AW-ARM.

Drone with robotic arm

The PD6B-AW-ARM, nicknamed “DRORIA,” can lift and drop up to 20 kilograms of payload. In addition, it can stay aloft for up to 20 minutes. 

Unlike the other commercial and industrial drones, which have focused on spraying pesticides, surveying, mapping, filming, and photography, DRORIA performs specific “hands-on” operations. For example, it can cut cables, flick switches, or drop life-saving buoys.

Drones like the DJI Mavic 3 use the GPS to follow you. On the contrary, the military controls larger UAVs from a ground cockpit. 

Follow-me drones track your motion relative to your tethered mobile device through GPS. As a result, you can set the drone to follow your movements by hovering, rotating, or moving along you. However, as I said before, your choice of a drone depends on certain factors. You should consider the features you want, like camera quality, drone sensitivity, flight range, and flight time.


You can use drones where human-crewed flight is too risky or too difficult. Unlike manned aircraft, which depend on the ability of the pilot to stay awake, drones can provide 24-hour surveillance in the sky seven days a week. Although that can be a good thing, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles raise significant privacy concerns among the public. 

It is important to note that despite their varying functionalities, the most striking commonality is that drones do not carry humans on board. Instead, UAV manufacturers have equipped the drones with GPS modules that connect to the orbiting satellites to help the drones know their location. Additionally, you can control them with remote ground control systems. 

Tell us what you think in the comments section. What questions would you want us to answer regarding drones?

4 thoughts on “What Really is a “Drone”?”

  1. This is a create article . Your are very detailed and equiped. Through your writing I’ve have fallen in love with drones and the modern technology.

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