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Evolution of Drones

It is the 'Era' of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), an all-encompassing term which includes the aircraft or the UAV, and the ground-based controller (the person operating the machine), and the system of communications connecting the two, commonly known as 'Drones.' 

Today, the drones are revolutionizing the world and businesses which hardly anyone could have ever imagined. UAVs or drones was an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs include both autonomous drones and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). 

According to the brief history "The U.S. military experimented with pilotless aeroplanes as “aerial torpedoes” or flying bombs far back during the first world war, but with no significant success—until the Vietnam war, when jet-propelled, camera-equipped drones built by Teledyne-Ryan were launched and controlled from U.S. Air Force C-130s. 

"Abraham Karem born in 1937, is regarded as the founding father of UAV (drone) technology. "Karem built his first drone during the Yom Kippur war for the Israeli Air Force. In the 1970s, he moved to the USA and founded his company Leading Systems Inc. He started the manufacturing of his first drone 'Albatross' in his home garage. Later on, the sophisticated 'Amber' which eventually evolved into the famous 'Predator' drone that brought him the title of "drone father". Karem has been described by The Economist magazine as the man who "created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged, and at the age of 80 he continues to pioneer other airborne innovations." 

The UAVs or drones were associated with the military and those used by the US Air Force for surveillance, small intelligence, and reconnaissance craft of which some of them were light enough to be launched by hand, medium-sized armed drones to large spy planes. However, with the technology that is in use is incredibly advanced. It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), GPS, 3D scan, Biometrics, to Robotics and remote control to pilot essentially unmanned aeroplanes of different sizes, weights, reaching new heights figuratively and literally. 

Let me discuss some of the significant use-cases of the Military or Law enforcement Drones:

1. Air Strikes: The UAVs or drones are used for air strikes. According to President Obama, the US Military used drones to attack militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The drones hover over the suspected areas to fulfil the military operation.

2. Bomb Detection: The increasing frequency of terrorist attacks which the world has witnessed in the recent past can be mitigated with the help of drones. Small size drones can easily penetrate into the restricted areas. The inbuilt cameras make the drone highly suitable for bomb investigations. Thus the UAVs are apt for detecting the unexploded bombs and securely dealing with a potential bomb threat. 

3. Surveillance: Any country's Defence tends to conduct periodic surveys to ensure the protection of the place and its people usually. The drones are also used for criminal surveillance which could help trace missing persons, a search of criminal gangs or mafia groups. In 2009, the drone from Dayton carried out surveillance for 200 hours across cities. This helped in capturing the images of thirty-four murders as they happened in real-time. These attacks were carried out by a cartel, and the footages helped the Police to get to the perpetrator's getaway, vehicles and their various accomplices. 

4. Hostage Negotiation: The future of the drone could be an application of tiny drones, the size of an insect which will be capable of revealing the happenings in a hostile location. It is believed that the manufacturers will be able to provide 'Biomimetic' designs which will be suited to mimic nature along with the 3D depiction scan for appropriate handling of a hostage situation. The drone will help show precise details of exact happenings in the given locations without risking the lives of the security personnel. The drones will be of good use in conducting negotiations without the need for sending a negotiator to the hostage site. Instead, it can be achieved by sending a drone with a facility for a facetime chat with the hostage-taker. 

5. Crime Scene Analysis: Drones play a significant role in the future crime scene investigations due to the drone's ability to take photos and inspect the scene without any contamination of the pieces of evidence. Hence, the investigation team will not risk mistakes like footprints and fingerprints which were not supposed to be there. The police also could use drones to trackback discarded weapons from the crime scene location. Drones to help create maps for prosecuting or solving various crimes and documenting the evidence to convict the criminals who have walked-out scot-free due to lack of sufficient documented proof against them. 

6. Drone in Drug Interdictions or Tracing Missing Persons: Today, drones that are equipped with spectroscopic sensors help in detection of the meth labs, and similar use case can be applied for the storage of drug at sites to help in dealing with the menace of the illegal drug trade. It is most common for some close person to have gone missing. There have been several cases when a child has gone missing in a large crowd, or a person with Alzheimer disease has wandered from home. The drones equipped with cameras, facial recognition or license plate readers software will be able to swiftly and efficiently search and track the missing people. These drones will transform the way the future search operations of the missing people are conducted.

Military usage of UAVs or drones has become the primary use in today's world. According to Goldman Sachs, military spending will remain the primary driver of drone spending with an estimate of $70 billion drones by 2020. According to the latest news, "The US Military's latest autonomous aircraft is radically changing how they resupply units in the combat zone. It is all about keeping the troops safe and saving lives. The UAV helicopter is meant to resupply forces in combat zones quickly delivering ammunition, water, batteries, and even blood before returning to base. With no need for pilot or crew, it could eliminate the need for troops to fly or drive supplies to hostile, fire or dangerous roadways. The project is a partnership between the office of Naval research and tech company Aurora Flight Systems."

These are some of the use-cases of the Military or Law-Enforcement UAVs or Drones which I have discussed here. However, in my next couple of articles, I will be addressing the Non-military or Commercial, Personal and Future use-cases of the UAVs or Drones that has disrupted and transforming the world. 

To conclude, the drones will play a vital role in the resolution of future conflicts and the replacement of the human pilot. Drones are also cost-effective, time-saving and life-changing. Although, the application of drones in the Law-Enforcement domain is niche but will need the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to have the relevant regulations which would govern the right use of 'UAVs or Drones' in a lawful manner that will bring protection to the people and its nation.

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Rajashree Rao (Raj) is an Industry Thought Leader; Visionary for IoT/IIoT/Smart Cities, Digital Evangelist, Speaker, Writer, Mentor, and Entrepreneur. While Raj writes on a wide variety of subjects, her favorite topics are IoT Technologies, Digital Transformation, Leadership, Women's Empowerment, and 'Self.

Rajashree (Raj) has been in the industry for 17 years, having worked for SAP, Intel, and IBM managing diverse portfolios ranging from Consulting, Business Development, Sales to Large Enterprise Account Management, Channel Partner Management to Marketing & Communications. She has worked with Singapore Government & Public Sector accounts (incl. IMDA, LTA, A* Star, Mindef) on IoT, Smart Nation, and Smart Cities Initiatives.

Raj is a BCom Graduate (Hons.) from Jyothi Nivas College (Bangalore University) in Business Management and has a diploma in Computer Science - E-commerce. She enjoys international Travel & Nature, cooking, and is in the constant pursuit of the spiritual. She is also passionate about women’s empowerment and spends her free time working with women and women’s organization. She is a dedicated mentor who spends her time mentoring and coaching the young aspirants who come to her seeking guidance in their personal or professional life.

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