Man’s fascination with flight began when man encountered his first Aves. The concept of soaring into the skies so preoccupied man that he developed aircraft to carry him into that lofty space. Soon after his first flight, man saw aviation in a more creative light; the world’s military recognized aviation’s value in providing support for ground troops and in conducting recognizance. Army’s with air superiority had a distinct advantage over those lacking a powerful and competent air power. In periods of war, pilots flew sortie after sortie often in a state of fatigue. In spite of the efforts made to train more pilots faster, the “human”component of military aviation is a critical constraint and remains so to this date. To overcome this limitation, we needed to create and employ aircraft in an unmanned configuration but the supporting computer and communications technology, needed to create a highly effective tool, was not yet there.
The concept of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is not new; in fact, during the American Civil War the opposing armies used balloons rigged with explosives. The objective was to have the balloon land on the adversary’s munitions depot destroying it. Serious development of unmanned drones began in the 1960’s for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). The catalyst was the loss of a spy plane to the CCCP and a U-2 to Cuba. However, it wasn’t until after the Gulf War that the value of the unmanned aerial vehicle became crystal clear. The rest is history and today, military and law enforcement have unmanned assets that range from small man-portable, limited altitude, limited range drones to high performance and high endurance UAVs like the Predator and Global Hawk.
In the near future, you can expect mail, parcels and passengers moved by variants of UAVs. S.W.A.T teams will use them for reconnaissance and intelligence. The Coast Guard and Border Patrols will increase their use for border protection and interdiction, and home owners will use them against their neighbors.
Yes folks, the DHS has nothing on you because for the low-low price of $299 you can own your very own UAV, the Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter.
This little gem is WiFi enabled so it operates at the 2.4Ghz band, it is equipped with forward and downward viewing video cameras. Best of all, it can be controlled with your iPhone or iPad.
Envision yourself sitting in the backyard flying your Parrot AR Drone over your neighbor’s hot tub when they are in an amorous mood. This little dude has a ceiling of 100 ft. MSL (limited only by the software used), and its electric motors are extremely quiet. The Parrot AR Drone generates enough lift that one could readily equip it with a larger battery and thermal imaging. With a little work and knowhow you can also turn it into a weapon system.
Check out some of the relevant specification:
Parrot AR.Drone lets you see what the pilot sees.
With its built-in Wi-Fi system, you can control the Parrot AR.Drone using the built-in accelerometer in your iPhone®, iPod touch®, or iPad® device. On-board cameras (one forward facing, one facing down) let you see in real-time what the pilot sees as you complete complex flight maneuvers.
No ordinary RC helicopter, the Parrot AR.Drone uses military-grade technology for super-stable flight.
This four-rotor quadricopter employs dual ultrasonic altimeters, a three-axis accelerometer, multiple gyroscopes, and an embedded Linux platform to continuously stabilize itself during flight. AR.Drone can even compensate for turbulence caused by wind. In fact, it’s so easy to control, anyone can fly it.