Drone, guy! The Drone is a term that you use very much in today’s pop culture, but drones appear to be a very varied species: anything from mini UAVs to military drones! And aerial aircraft are often referred to as drones. And what’s a drone, exactly?
Unfortunately, there is no permanent answer to this, because although the term has become very common, it is not clearly established. A more precise phrase, and is more commonly referred to by people when they hear “d name” is an uncrewed aerial vehicle. Essentially, if it’s flying in a controlled manner and nobody on board, it’s a drone.
There is no distinction whether it is solely controlled by machines and artificial intelligence or, at the other end of the continuum, exclusively controlled by a remote human being.
But most often, when you see a vehicle identified as a drone nowadays, it’s a bit of both: human-driven, but capable of any degree of navigation on its own, if appropriate. This is going to change in the future, of course. Much when driverless vehicles are on the horizon, potential drones will be largely controlled.
The fictional UAV that ships to your door would not be powered on the Internet by a bored pilot. Then why is this a drone in pop culture, when it’s usually not? Culturally, your father’s 35-year-old RC aircraft is rejected for being insufficiently modern. The term [Drone] today is linked to tomorrow’s technology, even though it seems possible that the phrase was invented in the very early days of aviation, about remote-control target drone aircraft.
The first successful Target drone configuration was aptly named the ‘Queen Bee.’ Perhaps what the world truly needs is a little refinement of the ‘D-word.’ After all, if the person next to you were to say, ‘There’s a drone overhead!’ It would be charming to know if they said a two-pound glorified helicopter or a 5,000-pound death machine.
But this illustrates the broader question: will autonomous vehicles be used mainly as instruments for peace and trade or war? If history had everything to do with it, all of them possibly.