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Drone Facts

What is a Drone?

According to the dictionary, a drone is a male bee in a colony of social bees, which does no work but can fertilize a queen.

We know that is not what we are talking about.

In today’s usage, the word “drone” means “an unmanned aircraft.” The military have their own terminology calling a drone a “UAV” or Unmanned Arial Vehicle.

Some people say that a drone is a flying robot.

Drones are usually controlled by a pilot, although, they can be pre-programmed to carry out a mission such as going from Point A to Point B autonomously.

Drones are used, for private surveillance, photography, delivering goods, and of course, the military versions are used for things like exacting retribution.

Here is a listing of a few of the more interesting uses:

Hurricane Hunting

Drones can fly into the heart of a storm without humans on board. Drones can spy on storms as they evolve, performing valuable surveillance in order to improve forecasts and as a result save countless lives.

3-D Mapping

Small, lightweight drones or UAV’s guided by GPS technology can take thousands of digital images of the earth’s surface that can be combined into 3-D maps that can be used by private companies and individuals for many applications such as managing crops and fields, monitoring changes in topography as a result of mining operations, etc.

Protecting Wildlife

Drones can be used to protect the environment – the land and the animals that inhabit it. The Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Geological Service already use drones to monitor wildlife populations as well as map roads and wetlands for land management purposes. Drones can also be used to chart land use changes such as deforestation, which is threatening a countless number of species.

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Helping the Farmer

Drones (UAVs) with programmable GPS technology are becoming a useful tool for the farmers of the world. Drones are being used to monitor fields, helping to increase crop yields and profits. Drones are helping identify exactly where pesticides, water, or fertilizers should be applied in a more precise way which is better for the environment and lowers the farmer's operational costs. Drone cameras are being used to locate crops with low nitrogen levels. Others with infrared light cameras are helping farmers determine plant health.

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue missions are expensive, time-consuming, and often dangerous for the people involved. Drones are being used as a preferred method of covering large areas of inaccessible land. The first ever recorded search and rescue that a drone made took place in May of 2013 in Canada when an injured victim of an auto accident was located by a drone with heat-sensing equipment.

Types of Drones

Drones can be classified into two main categories: Military and Private Sector.

Military drones include the Predator and Reaper for the US, and Mikoyan Skat for Russia. In fact, there are scores of military drones operated by every major country in the world.

The private sector drones come in many sizes, shapes and capabilities. They include:


Tricopters drones as the name suggests have three rotors that require servos for control, similar to helicopters which have two rotors (a main rotor and a tail rotor) and three servos for control. Tricopters, when compared to quadrocopters (quadcopters) have less weight (one less rotor), have a longer battery life and are less expensive.  However, they are more complicated, more vulnerable to mechanical failure and their servos are subject to performance issues.

Quadrocoptors (Quadcopters)

Quadcopters have four rotors but no servos to deal with.  Quadcopters are simpler to operate and are more rugged and less susceptible to damage during a crash. They are initially more expensive than tricopters, but the expense is offset by the increased durability should a crash occur.

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Hexacopters have six motors and propellers (blades). The number of blades increases the capability of the drone (UAV) making it an excellent choice for carrying expensive cameras. Hexacopters have the same main benefits of a quadrocopter but boast higher speeds, more power, the capability of flying at higher altitudes, motor redundancy giving the drone the ability of flying home safely even if one motor is damaged. Some hexacopters can even lose two motors and still properly land if the affected motors are spaced in fortuitous positions. Hexacopters are a smart compromise between the Quadrocopter and the Octocopter


Octocopter drones have eight motors (blades). They can carry a heavier payload than the hexacopter which means that better cameras and heavier accessories can be used. Octocopters have greater power, speed and can operate at higher altitudes. Having more motors makes then safer. They have greater handling capabilities. They are more expensive than quadrocopters and hexacopters and when compared to quadrocopters, because of their size, they have a harder time flying in tight spaces. Furthermore, parts are more expensive should they have to be replaced.

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