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Drone Engineers


For more than 100 years unmanned aircraft have been used for military purposes, particularly when the missions could put pilots and soldiers at risk. In the 1800s, unmanned aircraft such as balloons and kites were used. For example, Austrians attacked the city of Venice in 1849 by putting bombs onto balloons that flew without pilots. The U.S. military put a camera on a kite in 1898 to take some of the first aerial reconnaissance photos during the Spanish-American War. Since then, the U.S. military and other government agencies have used unmanned aircraft systems in World War I and II, and in other wars and conflicts.

Drones were initially known as remotely piloted vehicles, or RPVs. The term "drone" came about sometime in the 1940s. Its name was inspired by the droning sound it makes, similar to that of bees, and also, like worker bees, drones don't have a mind of their own.

Since the 1980s, drones have been engineered and developed for a wide range of purposes beyond military use, including agriculture, scientific research, commercial, and recreational. Radio-controlled airplanes have also become increasingly popular in the past few decades, and the development of smartphones since the 2000s has made it even easier for hobbyists and consumers to gain access to drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates drone usage in the United States, including pilot and aircraft requirements, location requirements, and operating rules relating to education, recreational, and commercial uses. Commercial drone operators must have a remote pilot airman certificate, be at least 16 years old, and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.

The FAA predicts that by 2020, there could be 30,000 drones flying in the United States. As drone use continues to grow and expand, drone engineers, pilots, and other related professionals will be needed to help engineer and develop them.

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