On a technical level, drones are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The concept of drones has existed for nearly 200 years, however just in the past decade they have been gaining popularity in many contexts spanning from military to commercial applications.
Drones started taking off in the early 1900s, concept-wise, but it wasn't before 1970 until what many consider the first modern drone was taking to the skies.
Drones have been heavily used in military operations for two decades now. Drones started penetrating consumer and business life in the past decade due to various factors, though. Cheaper parts, smaller designs, and user-friendly guidance systems have propelled drones forward.
Dozens of militaries utilize unmanned aerial vehicles in today's world. Of course, the United States is perhaps the largest user of surveillance and weapon-equipped drones. Most individuals have seen videos of drone strikes launched by the U.S. at various targets.
America isn't the only country that utilizes UAVs for these purposes. Still, everyone knows what a drone is thanks to their use during wartimes. Basic concepts from military drones have been employed to craft non-military drones.
Non-military drones don't utilize the same propulsion or guidance systems as their military counterparts. Most non-military UAVs take advantage of rotors and radio controls to operate. For that reason, these drones tend to come in the form of quadrotors with someone actively controlling the unit.
Quadcopters and similar drones have dropped in price in the past decade. Lower costs and new innovations have opened up new opportunities for businesses and individuals with drones. After decades of flying drones for surveillance and combat purposes, military UAVs have led to the popularization of non-military drones.
Recently, companies like Amazon have stated their intentions to use drones for commercial operations. Amazon plans to deliver its packages through the use of UAVs. Other businesses want drones to handle warehouse operations and various tasks. By throwing drones into the mix, a company can automate its processes to save money and increase efficiency.
Countless commercial uses are available here, including package delivery and the filming of events, among other things. Several smaller business are now offering RC (remote control) drones for sale, many with cameras. These RC drones with cameras are most common for specialized business ventures (i.e. realtors filming expansive properties available for web marketing) in addition to recreational use. An example is the RC drones for sale by CallRNerds.com, a local computer and technology company in Illinois.
For consumers, drones are somewhat like remote controlled helicopters and planes. They act as the perfect recreational remote controlled vehicle after all. Parents can fly a quadcopter drone with their children. On the other hand, photographers can take breathtaking images from a drone in the sky. Consumer uses for drones are quite varied, too. Most people fly UAVs for fun at the moment. Once again, increasingly lower prices allow more individuals to try out recreational flying.
More and more countries continue to use drones. Everything from militaries to law enforcement and businesses to consumers has access to UAVs today. In the coming years, drones will penetrate even further into daily life. They'll still be used in combat situations, but drones should become even more associated with commercial and personal uses. Businesses will deliver products and services by automated drone; consumers will be able to use drones for increasingly intricate tasks.
Although there are concerns about drone safety, that's not going to prevent drones from permeating through society in countless ways.