Many technologies have been developed in the field of aircraft but, UAV has been an effectual progress. It helped in not only recreational purposes but, also in dangerous and long flight purposes. UAV, commonly known as drones have been adopted by many countries.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, are a part of Unmanned Aircraft System, UAS. UAS consists of
- ground-based controller
- a system of communication between these two.
To be more précised, UAV are defined as
- powered aerial vehicle.
- that doesn’t heft human operators.
- To provide lift, it uses aerodynamic forces.
- It can be piloted autonomously or using remote.
- can convoy heavy payloads, which can be lethal or non lethal.
In military, they have gained huge importance because of the precision strikes that they can conduct on faraway targets. UAVs have evolved as spy and renaissance vehicles. Although UAVs are mostly used in military areas nowadays, the UAVs can also perform scientific, public safety and commercial tasks.
Todays UAVs require longer durational operations and less maintenance as compared to earlier models. Greater flexibility and lower capitals could allow UAVs to endeavour in as diverse field as urban infrastructure management, farming, oil and gas exploration and many more.
In several years of implementation UAV have gone through many challenges, related to its autonomy, localisation and mapping system and vision-based system, which is discussed on further sections.
History of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
In the starting of the technological age, UAVs came into existence in the form of balloons. Montgolfier brothers, these were the first people who experimented with this in 1782.
Unmanned aerostats aloft were sent for the preparation of manned flights. An American Civil War, happened between 1861 and 1865, used this UAV. In this war, incendiary devices were put on unmanned observation balloons and released them with the optimism of starting fires.
Under some top-secret projects, like Project Gopher and Genetrix Reconnaissance Programs, the high-altitude weather balloons were modified by the United States in the early 1950s. The modified balloons, outfitted with automatically triggered cameras, were set to record wide angle views of the Soviet Union. The results of the free drift missions were partially successful.
Aerial Steam Carriage
In 1848, John Stringfellow and William Henson combined their ideas. They built a steam powered propeller driven model aircraft that had a 10-foot wingspan which was called the Aerial Steam Carriage. The model successfully covered 60 yards.
The First Major American Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
The American Navy Curtiss flying bomb is reported to be messenger of today’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The primitive cruise missile, first flew on 6th March 1918. The Charles Kettering Aerial Torpedo, also known as Kettering Bug. It was a parallel effort, backed by the American Army. Orville Wright, he acted as a consultant on this project. The “Bug” that flew approximately 50 miles late in 1918, was a gasoline fuelled propeller driven biplane.
1950-70 US UAV Programs
The advancement of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle mission parameters, propulsion and guidance systems was seen in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To convert surplus aircraft into target drones, the US Navy and Airforce started many programs. These programs continue to even this day. Some of the drones that are purposely designed, such as the Ryan Firebee series of jet propelled UAVs, first appeared in the early 1950’s. This drone was eventually converted into one of the first surveillance platforms.
India’s Acquisiton of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Indian Armed Forces have operated UAVs for almost a decade now. In late 1990s, the Indian Army was the first to annex UAVs. The Indian Air Force and Navy followed.
Aeronautical Development Establishment at Bangalore, developed a catapult launched UAV. DRDO was tasked to produce this UAV. It improved to meet user requirements. IAI Malat had UAVs which were in service with numerous armies. IAI Malat has procured most of the Indian Armed Forces.
Lately, the Indian Air Force has acquired the Harop, that is more like UCAV. 2006 onwards, some successive IAF Chiefs of Staff have emphasised the capability of UCAV. By 2017, IAF has planned to have fully operational UAV and UCAV squadrons.