Consumer and commercial drones - statistics and facts
We hear about drones every day and some of us might even be thinking of getting one ourselves to record some epic birds-eye visuals of our lives, from a vacation to events like weddings. The term drone refers to any remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), which can have various forms and different degrees of autonomy, either under the control of a human pilot or with the ability to perform fully autonomous flights. The United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) adopted the term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to define aerial drones in 2005. This was later adopted by other governmental agencies worldwide to emphasize the importance of different features rather than a narrow focus on the aircraft for the development of regulations.
The rapid evolution of drones began with the development of defense technologies to remotely pilot an aircraft with weaponized and non-weaponized systems. Critical for deployment in environments that are deemed dangerous for human-piloted planes, these are mainly larger drones weighing several kilograms. Today, smaller drones weighing under a kilogram are used by some government agencies monitoring a variety of operations, from mapping in precision agriculture to monitoring or assisting complex situations, such as security threats attended by the police.
Commercial drones with industrial applications help monitor telecommunication towers or utilities like water lines, electricity grids, and telephone networks, as well as maintain or aid site inspections in mining operations. Nowadays, such commercial drones are implemented as prototypes in the logistics and transportation sector, from moving cargoes to transporting people in air taxis.
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Research expert covering the global consumer technology industry