Niagara Falls photography by Nina and Georgi Tushev

Niagara Falls drone photography by Nina and Georgi Tushev

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: