Understanding the fascination with drones
Everyone seems to be captivated by drones and the Indian Army’s demonstration of ‘swarming’ by drones on Army Day seems to have caught people’s fancy. Before anything else, we need basic clarity on what a drone is. Autonomous flying platforms in one form or another have been around ever since aviation came into being but did not have the required smartness associated with such platforms of today. A drone, in technological terms, is an unmanned aircraft.
It can be described as a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through remote controlled flight plans and software embedded in its systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS. At a lower level of awareness, what needs to be understood is that drones, just like aircraft, can be of two types—fixed wing and rotary wing. Both started with extremely low payload capability, which has now increased substantially based upon the type of avionics. For conventional operations and hybrid war, both types of drones can be armed with precision weapons that can be launched and guided to their targets, or worked with the aid of artificial intelligence. Copter-type drones can also be employed as robotic munitions carriers in ‘suicidal’ mode against field fortifications, hardened vehicles or logistics dumps.