This Way Up 13 August 2016

Drone racing. Drone history and future of UAVs.

Drone History

Drone by Adam Rothstein

Drone by Adam Rothstein Photo: Alice Marwick/Bloomsbury

From their early use in the military to train pilots, to taking aerial surveillance snapshots they could bring back to base, the drone's had a varied and interesting history. With new camera technology, real time reconnaissance and weapon targeting's become a reality. Now smartphones have helped turn the drone into a mainstream consumer product. Adam Rothstein's history of drones is called Drone and it's part of the Object Lessons series published by Bloomsbury.

Saving lives with drones

A Zipline drone dropping off medical supplies

A Zipline drone dropping off medical supplies Photo: (Supplied)

Keller Rinaudo of Zipline is using drones to save lives. Its fixed-wing drones are delivering critical medical supplies and blood into remote parts of Rwanda.

Tech news: Future drones

Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin Photo: Supplied

Peter Griffin with tech news. How Facebook wants to use a solar-powered drone to provide free internet access to Africa, and could delivery drones really bring goods to our homes one day?

Drone Racing

The drone has come to embody many of our fears about technology and surveillance in the digital age. But they can also be used to fight fires, deliver vital medical supplies, and give people internet access in remote parts of the world. And one day they might be able to deliver the stuff you buy online straight to your door.

If you're wondering how the word 'drone' migrated from the beehive to apply to unmanned aerial vehicles apparently we have US Admiral William Standley to thank. In 1935 in Britain he saw a remote controlled target aircraft in operation called the Queen Bee. He adapted the name and the drone, controlled by an operator on the ground or in a "mother" plane, was born.

You can race drones too! And we New Zealanders are pretty good at it, with a team of kiwi drone racers through to the sports Olympic Games, the World Drone Racing Championships aka the Drone Worlds that will be taking place in Hawaii in October. Meanwhile the sport is poised to hit the big time, with the sports network ESPN broadcasting live coverage of the US National Drone Racing Championship just last weekend.

We immersed ourselves in the local drone racing or RotorCross scene, at a race meeting north of Wellington.