The noun “drone” originally referred to a male honeybee. It was first adopted to describe pilotless aircraft (probably) during the 1940s, and has since expanded to include all pilotless vehicles, airborne or otherwise: Today, cars, boats, and submarines can be “drones,” too.
As computers and robotics have advanced, “drone” has started to imply a more sophisticated autonomy. The phrase “true drone” has been cropping up, lately, indicating a vehicle that is not only unmanned, but self-piloting: Tell it where to go, and it simply goes there without further instruction.
However you feel about the terminology, the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles is fascinating and is generally applicable whether your ambitions lie in the area of “true drones” or traditional R/C. Given limited space, we have limited our focus mostly to airborne examples, but here, too, many of the same ideas can be applied to drones on the ground, on or under the water, and perhaps even in outer space.
The Latest Drone News and Projects from Make:
Ready to level-up your robot skills? ArduRoller is a self-balancing, inverted pendulum robot that’s also capable of autonomous navigation indoors or out. I created it as an entry for the annual SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition: The goal was to create a nontraditional vehicle capable of quickly navigating an obstacle course […]
- Posted by Jason Short | June 3rd, 2015 10:00 AM
Build your own quadrotor airframe from hardware store parts, then trick it out with stabilized onboard video and autonomous flight.
- Posted by Chad Kapper | May 22nd, 2015 6:30 AM
With the 3D Robotics Solo quadcopter, aerial cinematography is about to get a whole lot prettier, smarter, and more accessible.
- Posted by Donald Bell | April 13th, 2015 3:40 PM
Today in New York, DJI announced a new model of their popular Phantom line of quadcopters, the Phantom 3. The drone is available for pre-order now starting at $999, and ships later this month. The design of the new drone is visually similar to the Phantom Vision 2 Plus, with […]
- Posted by Donald Bell | April 8th, 2015 1:41 PM
At some point someone got the idea to put a taxidermied animal on a remote control (RC) body. Here’s a few examples of this type of animal-machine hybrid. I’m not sure I would want my pet immortalized like this, but to each his own I suppose… Beloved Cat Turned into a […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | March 31st, 2015 8:00 AM
Make: Magazine Volume 44 is all about DRONES! Don’t have the issue? Get yours today! Flying drones may be able to do many jobs in the future, or possibly deliver everything from beer to defibrillators. For now though, it seems that most (non-millitary) drones exist for the entertainment of their owners. Here […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | March 30th, 2015 10:33 AM
Star Wars mania is gripping the drone world and the Make: offices. And it is certainly gripping Oliver C. The last time we saw him, he had created a stunning Millennium Falcon mod for his quadcopter. He’s back once again, this time with something much more sinister. An Imperial Star Destoyer! […]
- Posted by Caleb Kraft | March 26th, 2015 8:30 AM
Make: magazine Volume 44 hit the newsstands on March 24 and this issue is all about DRONES! To hold you over till the issue is available to purchase, we’ve collected some fun drone related stories to share. Besides aerial photography, one obvious use for drones (when regulatory concerns get ironed out) […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | March 21st, 2015 12:00 PM
Make: magazine Volume 44 hit the newsstands on March 24 and this issue is all about DRONES! To hold you over till the issue is available to purchase, we’ve collected some fun drone related stories to share. Currently drones are known for their use by the military and hobbyists. In the […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | March 19th, 2015 2:00 PM
I got into FPV (First Person Video) multi-rotor racing a few months ago. The fast, low level flying instantly reminded me of the Star Wars speeder bike Endor chase scene from Return of the Jedi. This project was an obvious choice to combine my interest and experience in RC (remote […]
- Posted by Adam Woodworth | March 13th, 2015 9:24 AM
As the FPV drone flying grows and grows, it’s easy to expect more people showing up at your local gatherings. In general, that’s great for the community, but it can result in some serious difficulties keeping the radio waves clear for active pilots. Poorly managed frequencies can turn any FPV meetup […]
- Posted by Tyler Winegarner | March 3rd, 2015 3:12 PM
Quadcopters are great at hovering, but don’t have long range. Fixed-wing aircraft can travel long distances quickly, but don’t like to stay in one place above the ground. Krossblade’s SkyProwler solves both of those problems. The hybrid aircraft is a remote controlled quadcopter with wings, or a plane with six […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | February 20th, 2015 11:06 AM
Olivier built a skin for his custom DIY drone that transforms it into a Millenium Falcon clone.
- Posted by Nathan Hurst | February 4th, 2015 12:11 PM
The DJI gang and Good Morning America teamed up in Iceland this morning to fly drones over a live volcano — and stream it live for the world to see. The first-of-its-kind broadcast happened this morning from Bardarbunga Volcano, located in a remote part of central Iceland. According to ABC News, […]
- Posted by Mike Senese | February 3rd, 2015 11:27 AM
Moving from concept to reality, the small wristband drone dazzled the CES crowd and tech community.
- Posted by Mike Senese | January 7th, 2015 10:48 AM
When you’re ready to step past the toys and into the tools of the drone world, you are likely going to end up landing on Iris by 3D Robotics. This drone boasts a full set of features and fantastic construction. The ability to set way points for autonomous flight is […]
- Posted by Caleb Kraft | December 2nd, 2014 7:01 AM
Today’s the 15th annual GIS Day, “the annual salute to geospatial technology and its power to transform and better our lives” with over 700 events around the world. For example, in Indiana, drone-heads will collect GIS data with UAVs. WTH is GIS, you ask? GIS stands for Geographic Information System, or sometimes people call […]
- Posted by Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka | November 19th, 2014 12:36 PM
DJI's latest quadcopter is one of the most impressive flying rigs we've yet to see.
- Posted by Mike Senese | November 19th, 2014 6:30 AM
Ivan Stomatovski had time on stage to show off his Easy Aerial Drone system, a drone that snaps together with no wires. He took a few moments though to remind the audience not to forget the good that drones can do. Pointing out that the press likes to tell stories […]
- Posted by Caleb Kraft | November 8th, 2014 6:49 AM
We spoke with Vernon of Extreme Fliers at Engadget Expand. He showed off a little bit, zipping around their crazy little quadcopter while he talked about the upcoming accessories. He mentioned that they’re going to be releasing a “gattling gun” that will fire foam rockets and a laser pointer attachment […]
- Posted by Caleb Kraft | November 8th, 2014 6:38 AM
A new initiative will put open-source drone software under one unified platform managed by the Linux Foundation.
- Posted by Mike Senese | October 13th, 2014 8:07 AM
I’m writing this article because I couldn’t easily find any information on the web prior to my departure to Tuscany. I’ve been flying multirotors for some time now and I have encountered a few elements not mentioned anywhere else — to my knowledge. I hope you will find that this […]
- Posted by Jan Marcinowski | September 15th, 2014 9:45 AM
In this episode of Maker Hangar, I give you an intro to the Maker Trainer 2. See the changes and improvement I made from the old design and see all the advantages of this new plane. In the next episode, I'll will show us how to build the entire airplane, so stay tuned!
- Posted by Lucas Weakley | July 16th, 2014 11:51 AM
If you thought 3D printing pens were just interesting toys, here’s something that might change your mind, a freehand 3D printed quadcopter propeller. The way it was made was quite interesting, and would be tough, if not impossible to duplicate with a “traditional” 3D printer. The surface of the original […]
- Posted by Jeremy Cook | July 16th, 2014 7:01 AM
In this episode of Maker Hangar, I'll teach you about flight controller boards. You'll learn what they are and what they do in a multicopter. I'll also show you how to set up your tricopter with the Flip 1.5 Multi Wii Controller board.
- Posted by Lucas Weakley | July 9th, 2014 11:57 AM
In this episode of Maker Hangar, I show you how to assemble the motor mounts and body halves of the tricopter. You’ll also learn what CA adhesives are and what they can be used for. Next episode, I’ll show you how to finish building the tricopter, so stay tuned! Maker Hangar Tricopter Kit / Additional […]
- Posted by Lucas Weakley | June 26th, 2014 12:00 PM
Maker Hangar Is back! Learn to build two new aircraft this season, a tricopter and second airplane. In this episode, I talk about what a tricopter is and some of its advantages over other multicopters. We also take a look into the kits that are being sold for this year. Stay tuned for the next episode where I'll show how to get started building the Tricopter!
- Posted by Lucas Weakley | June 24th, 2014 11:40 AM
Gorgeous aerial footage of the greatest show (and tell) on earth.
- Posted by Caleb Kraft | May 20th, 2014 6:50 AM
Parrot's new quadcopter slims down in size while growing its capabilities.
- Posted by Mike Senese | May 12th, 2014 8:40 AM
Rodger Cleye has built a growing fleet of DIY X-Wing and TIE Fighters to zoom around in wonderful, off-balance multirotor flight.
- Posted by Mike Senese | May 4th, 2014 11:46 AM
When dreaming of ideas for the perfect marriage proposal for his girlfriend, San Francisco's Jason Muscat wanted something unforgettable. What about having the ring fly in from the sky and land at her feet? Yes. And the vehicle to do it? A hexacopter.
- Posted by Laura Cochrane | February 11th, 2014 4:00 AM
Leif Ristroph and Stephen Childress from New York University have just released work with a new robotic ornithopter with a biomechanical design based not on traditional insects or birds, but rather on the aquatic jellyfish.
- Posted by Sandy Roberts | January 18th, 2014 7:00 AM
Game of Drones have flown their experimental quadcopter through fire, crashed through glass windows, dropped it from great heights, and even blasted it out of the sky. Now this nearly indestructible airframe is available via a Kickstarter campaign.
- Posted by Andrew Terranova | January 15th, 2014 4:19 AM
Yesterday Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, announced during a 60 Minutes segment that his company has already began work on the future of shipping, called Amazon Prime Air. In short, orders that weigh under 5 pounds will be delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, by drone.
- Posted by Eric Weinhoffer | December 2nd, 2013 1:00 PM
Terry and Belinda Kilby are the duo behind Elevated Element, a project dedicated to drone aerial photography.
- Posted by Andrew Terranova | October 16th, 2013 4:00 AM
Chris Kippenberger works on DIY aerial drones, which he uses to make videos capturing his love of cars and bicycles that would otherwise be expensive or impossible to make. For him, aerial drones are just the tools of his trade, not and end to themselves.
- Posted by Andrew Terranova | October 14th, 2013 2:00 PM
The Trimble Gatewing X100 drone was drawing a lot of attention at Saint Malo Mini-Maker Faire. Capable of autonomous operation—all the way from launch through to its landing—the drone it's designed to map terrain it's overflying.
- Posted by Alasdair Allan | October 12th, 2013 8:56 AM
Next week, the first Drone & Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC) will be held in New York City from Oct. 11-13. The agenda is packed full of interesting speakers and panel discussions, demonstrations, and networking opportunities
- Posted by Andrew Terranova | October 2nd, 2013 9:45 AM
AeroQuad is a quadcopter project that freely shares its software and hardware, and is controlled by an Arduino Uno or Mega, or alternatively, AeroQuad's STM32-based flight control board which packs a magnetometer, gyroscope and accelerometer.
- Posted by John Baichtal | August 27th, 2013 5:00 AM
Interaction designer Jasper van Loenen created a kit for turning everyday objects into drones. He 3D printed clamping mounts for four motors and an enclosure for all the electronics (4 ESCs, a receiver, bluetooth module, and OpenPilot CC3D control board). By clamping the kit to, say, a bike wheel, you can turn it into a drone!
- Posted by Eric Weinhoffer | July 10th, 2013 10:30 AM
Drone Dudes are a team of filmmakers and designers who use RC copters to capture stunning aerial cinematography. In this video we interview Andrew Petersen and Jeff Blank, who operate a radial octocopter capable of lifting cameras up to 12lbs. on a 2- or 3-axis gimbal. All the gear stows away inside their Transit Connect, which doubles as a camping vehicle when they are on the road.
- Posted by Nick Normal | May 7th, 2013 6:40 AM
Vulpestruments just announced the completion of the Droneitar, a two-stringed instrument that has drone strings powered by a string attached to an electric motor. In fact, the coils from another electric motor are used as a pickup for the device. Rich Stephenson demonstrates the sonic possibilities of the Droneitar in the video.
- Posted by Michael Colombo | May 30th, 2012 12:00 PM
Finally on-the-go zen for today’s busy traveller, the Buddha Machine from FM3 plays nine different drones successively, with lengths ranging from 2 – 42 seconds long – The machine has its own built-in speaker, in case one would like to fill a room with the drones, but there is also […]
- Posted by Collin Cunningham | March 24th, 2008 11:15 AM