The use of unmanned aircraft is not a new practice. In the 1800s, the military used balloons that were armed with bombs rather than risk the lives of pilots and soldiers. In 1898, the U.S. military used a kite with a camera attached to it to capture aerial reconnaissance images during the Spanish-American War. Unmanned aircraft systems have since been used in other wars and conflicts.
Drones were initially known as remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). They were coined as drones in the 1940s for two reasons: they make a droning sound that resembles the sound bees make, and they also don't have a mind of their own, like worker bees.
Drones have been designed and developed in the past few decades for purposes that go beyond military use. Industries such as agriculture, scientific research and development, real estate, transportation, and fire and safety use drones to gather information. Recreational use of drones has also been on the rise, with a growing number of people using radio-controlled airplanes. Innovations in smartphones and mobile devices have also made it easier for consumers and hobbyists to use drones.
Laws regarding drone usage are continually changing to keep up with the increased demand and to protect people and property. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration issues regulations for drone usage, which includes requirements for pilots and aircraft, locations where usage is and is not permitted, and the rules for drone operation for commercial, educational, and recreational purposes. Those who operate drones for commercial use are required to be certified remote pilot airmen, at least 16 years old, and they must be authorized by the Transportation Security Administration to operate commercial drones.
The use of drones is expected to continue growing in the years to come. By 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration projects that there may be 442,000 commercial drones and 3.5 million hobbyist drones flying in the United States. Increased production and usage of drones will mean an ongoing need for technicians to repair drones and keep them in good working order.
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