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:

 

The Nationals: FPV Drone Racing Goes Big-League

The Nationals: FPV Drone Racing Goes Big-League

The first-ever drone-racing national championships brought the best FPV pilots to the air.

DJI Matrice 100

DJI Matrice: A Quadcopter Built for Hacking

DJI announced a new modular quadcopter platform called the Matrice 100, which is due out later this month and designed for customization.

How to Build a Self-Balancing Autonomous Arduino Bot

How to Build a Self-Balancing Autonomous Arduino Bot

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 […]

Build a Quadcopter Drone with a Self-leveling Camera Gimbal

Build a Quadcopter Drone with a Self-leveling Camera Gimbal

Build your own quadrotor airframe from hardware store parts, then trick it out with stabilized onboard video and autonomous flight.

3D Robotics' New Solo Quadcopter: Dual Linux Processors, Unprecedented GoPro Control

3D Robotics’ New Solo Quadcopter: Dual Linux Processors, Unprecedented GoPro Control

With the 3D Robotics Solo quadcopter, aerial cinematography is about to get a whole lot prettier, smarter, and more accessible.

Photo of DJI Phantom 3 aerial drone.

DJI Launches Phantom 3, Brings Long-Range FPV, 4K Recording

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 […]

Build Your First Tricopter

Build Your First Tricopter

Tricopters fly smoother than quads and make better videos. Build the Maker Hangar Tricopter and see for yourself!

4 Taxidermy Drones: Yes, That's a Thing

4 Taxidermy Drones: Yes, That’s a Thing

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 […]

Drone Craziness: 5 Weird And Wacky Multirotor Projects

Drone Craziness: 5 Weird And Wacky Multirotor Projects

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 […]

Drones on the Dark Side: Imperial Star Destroyer Takes Flight

Drones on the Dark Side: Imperial Star Destroyer Takes Flight

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! […]

Drone Derby 101: Rules for FPV Racing

Drone Derby 101: Rules for FPV Racing

Set up your own FPV race with these handy guidelines

Watch Drones Delivering Everything from Beer to Defibrillators

Watch Drones Delivering Everything from Beer to Defibrillators

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) […]

5 Jobs That Could Be Taken Over By Drones Today

5 Jobs That Could Be Taken Over By Drones Today

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 […]

FPV Star Wars Speeder Bike Quadcopter Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

FPV Star Wars Speeder Bike Quadcopter Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

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 […]

Frequency Management: Don't Wreck Your Neighbor's Drone

Frequency Management: Don’t Wreck Your Neighbor’s Drone

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 […]

This Vertical Take-Off Quadcopter is Like Your Own Mini Harrier Jet

This Vertical Take-Off Quadcopter is Like Your Own Mini Harrier Jet

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 […]

Transform a Quadcopter Into a Flying Millennium Falcon

Transform a Quadcopter Into a Flying Millennium Falcon

Olivier built a skin for his custom DIY drone that transforms it into a Millenium Falcon clone.

Watch Two Quadcopters Broadcast Live TV Footage — Inside an Active Volcano

Watch Two Quadcopters Broadcast Live TV Footage — Inside an Active Volcano

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, […]

Nixie the Wearable Selfie Drone Delights Crowd at CES 2015

Nixie the Wearable Selfie Drone Delights Crowd at CES 2015

Moving from concept to reality, the small wristband drone dazzled the CES crowd and tech community.

From The Gift Guide: 3DR Iris+

From The Gift Guide: 3DR Iris+

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 […]

Make Your Own Maps: DIY on GIS Day

Make Your Own Maps: DIY on GIS Day

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 […]

Hands-On With DJI's New Inspire One Transforming Drone

Hands-On With DJI’s New Inspire One Transforming Drone

DJI's latest quadcopter is one of the most impressive flying rigs we've yet to see.

Easy Aerial Drones Talks to Engadget Expand

Easy Aerial Drones Talks to Engadget Expand

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 […]

Extreme Fliers At Engadget Expand

Extreme Fliers At Engadget Expand

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 […]

Dronecode: Linux Foundation, 3D Robotics Create Open-Source UAV Software Platform

Dronecode: Linux Foundation, 3D Robotics Create Open-Source UAV Software Platform

A new initiative will put open-source drone software under one unified platform managed by the Linux Foundation.

Making a Hexacopter Using The 3Doodler

Making a Hexacopter Using The 3Doodler

Animator Louis DeRosa designed two hexacopters using 3Doodler’s 3D printing pen. Both were able to attain flight but only version 2 was much more stable.

Drones Doing Good

Drones Doing Good

Check out the winners of the Drone Social Innovation Award, and a few interesting runners-up. The Drone User Group Network established this prize to promote use of drones for the public good.

The Beautiful Choreography of Dancing Drone Lamps

The Beautiful Choreography of Dancing Drone Lamps

Cirque du Soleil partnered with ETH Zurich and Verity Studios to produce SPARKED, "a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance."

Movie Making from Above

Movie Making from Above

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 […]

Maker Hangar ep6: Maker Trainer 2

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!

propeller

Make a Working Quadcopter Propeller with a 3D Printing Pen

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 […]

Maker Hangar 2 ep5: Flying a Tricopter

In this episode of Maker Hangar, I give you some tips on how to be successful when flying your tricopter. I also include some video shot from my tricopter when I brought it on vacation and flew it around.

Maker Hangar 2 ep4: Flight Controller Boards

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.

Maker Hangar ep3: Tricopter Build Part 2

In this episode of Maker Hangar, I show you how to finish building the tricopter. You'll learn how to solder all the ESCs together and finish bolting together the tricopter.

Maker Hangar 2 ep2: Tricopter Build Part 1

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 […]

Maker Hangar 2 ep1: What is a Tricopter?

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!

3D Robotics Shares a Drone's Eye View of Maker Faire

3D Robotics Shares a Drone’s Eye View of Maker Faire

Gorgeous aerial footage of the greatest show (and tell) on earth.

Parrot's Small New Drone Revolutionizes Video With a Virtual Gimbal

Parrot’s Small New Drone Revolutionizes Video With a Virtual Gimbal

Parrot's new quadcopter slims down in size while growing its capabilities.

Watch These Oversized Multirotor X-Wing and TIE Fighters Fly

Watch These Oversized Multirotor X-Wing and TIE Fighters Fly

Rodger Cleye has built a growing fleet of DIY X-Wing and TIE Fighters to zoom around in wonderful, off-balance multirotor flight.

WAVEcopter: A Waterproof Quadcopter

WAVEcopter: A Waterproof Quadcopter

WAVEcopter is a fully waterproof multicopter frame that I have constructed mostly from readily available and cheap electrical parts.

Droneposal: The World’s First Marriage Proposal by Drone?

Droneposal: The World’s First Marriage Proposal by Drone?

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.

Behold, The Noodle Copter!

Behold, The Noodle Copter!

A quadcopter made from pool noodles. Surprisingly practical and good looking (from a distance)!

Flying Robotic Jellyfish Take to the Sky

Flying Robotic Jellyfish Take to the Sky

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.

Game of Drones: They're not Playing Around

Game of Drones: They’re not Playing Around

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.

Getting Started in Aerial Video

Getting Started in Aerial Video

How to make killer videos from your multicopter or drone.

Robot Year in Review: 2013

Robot Year in Review: 2013

2013 was a good year for robotics. Let's review some of my favorite stories, maker, products and projects.

Pie in the Sky? Technological Hurdles for Amazon Prime Air

Pie in the Sky? Technological Hurdles for Amazon Prime Air

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.

Riley Morgan: Drone Pilot and Young Entrepreneur

Riley Morgan: Drone Pilot and Young Entrepreneur

Riley Morgan is an enterprising young man who makes his own multicopters and provides aerial photography and video services.

The Social (Drone) Network

The Social (Drone) Network

Can aerial drones have a positive impact on our society? Some people are betting they can, and are putting their money where their mouth is.

Meet Elevated Element, a Husband and Wife Drone Team

Meet Elevated Element, a Husband and Wife Drone Team

Terry and Belinda Kilby are the duo behind Elevated Element, a project dedicated to drone aerial photography.

Meet Chris Kippenberger, Drone Cinematographer

Meet Chris Kippenberger, Drone Cinematographer

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.

A Neophyte's Path Through the DARC

A Neophyte’s Path Through the DARC

Join me as a take a neophyte's walk through the DARC and attend introductory workshops on making and using personal drones at the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference.

Sergei Takes his Robot for a Walk

Sergei Takes his Robot for a Walk

Sergei Lupashin demonstrates his tethered robot fotokite at the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference in New York City.

The Gatewing X100 at the Saint Malo Mini-Maker Faire

The Gatewing X100 at the Saint Malo Mini-Maker Faire

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.

First Drone Conference Takes Off

First Drone Conference Takes Off

The first day of the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference in NYC was a big success. Check out a summary of the proceedings.

Drone Conference Comes to NYC

Drone Conference Comes to NYC

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

Transatlantic Drone Takes to the Sea

Transatlantic Drone Takes to the Sea

The Scout Transatlantic project has broken the world record for the furthest distance traveled by an autonomous unmanned boat, and it is just getting started.

See AeroQuad at World Maker Faire

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.

Turn Everyday Objects into Drones

Turn Everyday Objects into Drones

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!

Movers and Makers: Drone Dudes

Movers and Makers: Drone Dudes

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.

Haunting Drone Instrument

Haunting Drone Instrument

Tom Fox of VulpeInstruments has unveiled another one of his creations, which uses the action of a grand piano to bend the notes in a motor-controlled drone instrument. It's called the Dronemachine MKII.

Motorized Scrap Wood Sitar

Motorized Scrap Wood Sitar

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.

Raven 1, drone 0

Found on DIY Drones, this excellent video shows the dangers of sending your drone into a bird’s turf!

HOW TO – Add vectoring thrusters to a blimp

As part of DIY Drones BlimpDuino Project, Chris Anderson has a new piece up about adding vectoring thrusters to a blimp. How to add vectoring thrusters to a blimp

Buddha machine

Buddha machine

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 […]