Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Exploring the Future of Aviation

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a motorized aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide lift, and can be remotely piloted or fly autonomously. UAVs, also known as drones, are becoming increasingly popular for recreational and commercial purposes. RAND research has contributed to public discussion on the use of drones for war and surveillance. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is collaborating with industry and communities to advance drone operations and integrate them into national airspace.

Whether you're flying for fun or work, the FAA provides rules, resources, and tools to help you fly safely. At its core, a UAV drone is a flying computer with a camera or sensor connected. Like computers, drones have firmware software that sends commands to the aircraft's physical components or to the remote control. Unmanned vehicles are growing in popularity, especially unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous cars, and various types of private consumer drones.

UAVs can be used for military purposes such as carrying sensors, target designators, offensive devices, or electronic transmitters designed to interfere with or destroy enemy targets. The Joint Authorities for the Elaboration of Standards on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) is responsible for regulating safety and airworthiness of UAVs. The authors examine the logistical and sustainment aspects of an emerging operational concept to employ a family of unmanned aerial vehicles that can be launched, recovered and maintained with minimal dependence on runways. Unmanned aerial vehicle technology covers everything from the aerodynamics of the drone to the circuit boards, chipset and software that make up its brain.

First-person view (FPV) technology allows UAVs to fly very easily indoors or through forests and around buildings. In the field of remote sensing, UAVs are helping to quickly replace conventional aerial photography (photogrammetry) by providing high spatial resolution aerial images (orthophotos) of the Earth's surface. The Dronecode Project is an open source collaborative project that brings together existing and future open source unmanned aerial vehicle projects under a non-profit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. In this report, RAND researchers explore current and potential military applications of autonomous systems, with a special focus on unmanned submarine vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles. The following video explains both the present and the future of the science and technology behind unmanned military aerial vehicles such as the Predator and Reaper.

A video camera is mounted on the UAV and this camera transmits live video to the pilot on the ground. The nose of the UAV is where all the sensors and navigation systems are present.

Colton Morford
Colton Morford

Avid student. Evil bacon fanatic. Total bacon fan. Passionate internet practitioner. Amateur internet advocate. Proud travel evangelist.

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