In recent years, the world of aviation has been witnessing the increase in the number of air crafts that are unmanned or do not have a pilot seated in it. The official name of these type of air crafts is Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (U.A.V.), but they are most commonly known as Drones.
Drones have seen an increased use in recent years, both in civil and military sectors with both sectors going through high profile criticism and controversies. In the civil sector, many individuals, groups and organizations have been experimenting with drones to their personal advantage and have been successful.
There have been various uses that have been developed, but the most amazing one is the use of drones to capture unbelievable footage and pictures of nature and other scenes around the world. The following image is taken by a drone by the National Geographic of a Wild Beluga Whale party, this image shows the exhilarating beauty of nature and how drones are able to capture the very essence of it.
Drones have definitely revolutionized the photography and filming industry and the above photo is an appropriate example as to how they have done so.
These mini-air crafts have also assisted scientists to a great extent. Scientists use drones to reach areas and locations which cannot be accessed by humans due to extreme conditions. Like the mouth of an active volcano. Drones enter the volcano, click pictures and record data and have it transmitted back to the launch site. All of this is done efficiently and without putting any human lives in harm’s way (Of course, these drones are made of high-grade materials).
Not only are drones being used to capture amazing footage of nature or helping the cause of science, world class events that are broadcasted around the world are using drones to capture footage of these events and broadcast it to viewers around the world.
Drones are classified as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles when they are used for purposes like filming, photography or science etc. But when they are used for purposes like surveillance of enemies in foreign territories and bombing different sites and have weapons attached to them, they are classified as Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles or U.C.A.V.
Since the year 2005, The United States Air force (U.S.A.F.) has increased its use of U.C.A.V. for purposes like surveillance and aiding ground troops in combat hot regions. U.C.A.V. are not burdened by the physiological limitations of human beings and therefore are designed in such a way that once they are in the air they can stay in the air for more than 24 hours and sometimes even more. If the controlling pilot feels tired or his shift is over, he/she will simply be substituted by another pilot or a team of pilot and a co-pilot.
U.C.A.V. are controlled by trained pilots from the safety of their cabins back in the United States of America (U.S.A.). In the initial stage of the U.C.A.V. program, the operators were existing pilots of the U.S.A.F. who were given additional training in terms of operating an U.C.A.V., pilots who were actually experienced in real combat and new the risks. But in recent years, people are being recruited right from college, people who are good at gaming and with a remote control, people who haven’t experienced combat or life threatening situations. For them, the only difference is that, here it is not a game and that their pull of the trigger will kill, real people.
The use of drones has gone through constant criticism, both in the civil and military sector.
Recently, in a prison in one of the Western countries, a prison inmate received a package of alcohol and drugs from his prison cell’s window, in a four storey high building via the use of drones.
Drones and drone operators have also been caught trespassing onto air spaces of airports, though their official statement was to mean no harm, there have been incidents where drones were used to disrupt the air traffic and maybe the intent to cause accidents.
But the most hotly debated controversy is the use of Drones or U.C.A.V. in the military sectors. There have been many human rights activists and other activists who have spoken out against the use of Drones for bombing and killing many people.
In a recent disclosure, it has been found out that the video footage from the Drones is pixelated and that if a person is seen to carry an object, even the best of analysts have difficulty in telling whether the person is holding a weapon or a maybe just a shovel. Along with it, the drone operators have been reported to go through a lot of stress, at the fact that whether they killed an innocent or an actual militant.
Drones, have their advantages and disadvantages and that cannot be argued with. It is a marvel of technology, as well as a sword of death. But it is inevitable that the future of aviation, vehicles and of course war is going to be one without the key element, man himself.