An airstrike hits an enemy target with precision, destroying it into oblivion. After much probing, you learn that the military carried out the strike using an unmanned aircraft. You are glued to the TV, keenly following a wildlife documentary shot somewhere in Africa. The close camera shots and aerial views are impressive, leaving you wondering how the camera crews managed to get so close to dangerous wild animals. Welcome to the world of drones — aircrafts that fly with no pilots physically on board. Ten or more years ago, only the military had access to this technology.

Inconspicuous and feared at first

Back then, media reports on drone strikes had everyone thinking that these air vehicles could only serve as weapons of destruction. However, a group of experts thought differently. They believed that drones could serve a commercial purpose. They preferred to use the term UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to separate the ‘good’ ones from the ‘bad’ ones. Today, people have softened their stance on drones. You are now comfortable with the sight of a UAV hovering at festivals, music concerts, weddings and other public gatherings. Defense missions still have the most extensive usage, but civilian utilization is also on the rise.

Features found on a drone

A typical drone is light in weight and can fit inside a car in the back seat or trunk. The heaviest weighs about fifteen pounds. Their propulsion systems are highly efficient, allowing the device to remain airborne for up to three and a half hours. Depending on the intended use, you may find a drone fitted with both thermal and high-resolution cameras. Their range of sight can vary from half a mile to ten miles. For takeoff, you may use a runaway or not. Some drones can take off and land vertically without taxiing like an ordinary aircraft.

Some commercial applications

  • Agriculture

Under precision agriculture, researchers and farmers can use these aerial vehicles to evaluate crop health. Through the information collected via remote sensing, experts can advise farmers on the best time to apply pesticides, fertilizer or water. Analysts reckon that using drones in agriculture can result in a 15 percent improvement in crop yield and 40 percent reduction in fertilizer usage.

  • Aerial delivery

Fast food outlets and online retailers have found it cost-effective to deliver orders to their clients using drones. The technology facilitates quick turnaround times, especially to areas where delivery crews cannot access by road.

  • Architecture and construction

Architectural designers planning to create drawings of projects contracted to them can create aerial shots. With these images, they then proceed to design buildings with accuracy. They also help architects in determining how to fit a new structure within the intended property proportionately. Engineers can also monitor structures for cracks or other damage that the human eye cannot detect.

Despite the negativity UAVs drew from the public, technology has turned these fascinating devices from the perception as destructive to human-friendly. Soon, drones will come in handy in the provision of internet services, broadcasting, health, and insurance among other sectors.

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