Drones – 17 Amazing Facts and Stats

Drones are autonomous flying vehicles (also known as UAVs, RPAs, etc.) controlled remotely by pilots using a variety of control schemes. Drones are becoming increasingly common due to their declining costs and improved battery life. They are very versatile with their uses from being used to deliver pizzas to being used as lethal killing machines. They can be controlled using smartphones, dedicated controllers, VR systems, Motion control systems, etc. Some drones can even be controlled purely with algorithms with zero human intervention.

Since drones have become so common, we decided to take a look at some facts and statistics associated with them.

1. The market for drones is expected to be worth $100 billion: The military has been responsible for the development of some of the most used technologies in the world, like the internet and the GPS. Similarly, drones were developed by the military, but have now entered the commercial market for a variety of purposes. This industry is expected to grow to be worth $100 billion by the end of 2020.

(Source: Goldman Sachs)

2. Drones for personal use account for 94% of all sales: The consumer drone market has exploded in popularity in recent years. Consumers are using drones for a variety of purposes, from racing to photography to even taking selfies! This market accounted for nearly 94% of all drone sales in 2017, though their market revenue share is only 40%. This discrepancy is due to military drones being widely more expensive than personal use drones.

(Source: Toptal)

3. The number of drones in the sky above the USA is expected to be above 8 million by next year: In 2017, more than one million drones were flying in the US sky. This number is expected to rise sharply to be above 8 million. This is primarily due to the growing applications of drones and their declining prices, making them more accessible to the general public.

(Source: FAA)

4. In the first instance of drone usage, Austria sent 200 balloons with timed fuses and bombs to Venice: In the first documented usage of autonomous drones, Austria sent over 200 bombs carrying timed fuses and bombs to bomb Venice. This was done as a part of the war for Venice’s independence. Owning to Venice’s unique position, Austria found it hard to bring traditional siege artillery to bear against the city. They came up with the idea to drop 200, 33-pound, bombs on the city. However, the wind shifted during the raid and blew most of the bombs back.

(Source: finding Dulcinea)

5. The fastest drone in the world can fly at a max speed of 289 km/hr:  DRL’s Racer X drone is the holder of the world record for the fastest flight by a battery-powered drone. It was created in an effort to improve their current entry for the Drone Prix Championship. Racer X’ official record was set at 263 km/hr due to it being the average speed of two runs, though its actual top speed of 289 km/hr was also documented.

(Source: The Verge)

6. Nissan created a drone that can go from 0 – 100 km/hr in 1.3 seconds: TheNissan GT-R is among the fastest cars in the world. The 2017 GT-R boasted of going from 0 – 100 km/hr in less than 3 seconds. Nissan was then faced with a curious problem. They had no way to film the car in action that would provide them with the kind of footage they needed. So, they invited the World Drone Prix Champions to design a drone for them. They created the GT-R drone, which is capable of going from 0 – 100 km/hr in just 1.3 seconds, with a top speed of 185 km/hr.

(Source: NDTV)

7. The longest remote-controlled multirotor drone flight time is over 12 hours: Most commercial drones have a flight time of only a few minutes with the most high-end versions capable of flying for 30 minutes. This flight time is absolutely nothing compared to the record holder. Metavista, a South Korean fuel cell manufacturer, using a hydrogen fuel cell-powered drone to set the record for the longest drone flight. The drone flew for 12 hours and 7 minutes.

(Source: Intelligent Energy)

8. Some drones are capable of lifting nearly 101 kilograms: In 2018, a giant drone designed by Piercarlo Ponchione and Gregory Alessio lifted a load of 101 kilograms for 37 seconds. It was able to raise this load up one meter. The newest model is reportedly capable of lifting up to 200 kilograms and can fly for 30 minutes. Its creators described the drone as the future of all transport, owing to it being capable of lifting two humans with ease.

(Source: Dronezine)

9. There has been a 55% increase in the safety of crewmen on construction sites due to drones: The construction business has seen a rapid increase in drone usage, as much as an increase of 239% from 2018 has been reported. This drone application is mainly in places that do not require personnel to be present but are very dangerous. Some examples of this are inspecting a potentially dangerous fault, surveying an inaccessible area, or even supervising pouring of concrete. This has directly led to a sharp decrease of 55% in workplace safety-related incidents.

(Source: Drone Base)

10. Drone have saved 133 lives across the world: Drones are being rapidly adopted by emergency services across the world to help in providing aid to people that need immediate help. This has led to a total of 133 people being saved through drone assistance. Some of the ways the drones helped in saving lives were by allowing a lifejacket to be dropped to a drowning surfer, thermal imaging drones locating people in building collapses, and even aiding in identifying hostage locations during a bank robbery.

(Source: DJI)

11. The real estate industry is selling 68% more houses due to drones: Real estate firms have begun using drones to provide aesthetic aerial images of the houses they have on sale. They reported in seeing a sharp rise of 68% in sales after making aerial pictures of the properties available to the prospective buyers. Drones are also sued extensively in taking footage for hotels and resorts from appealing angles and to survey large areas of land to aid in real estate development.

(Source: Altitude University)

12. Farmers save up to 98% of their time that was spent on surveying their fields using drones: Taking stock of their fields is an important task for all farmers. It aids in keeping tabs on the growth of their plant and identifying any issues that might crop up (no pun intended). Surveying a large property can take hundreds of hours, which can be detrimental to production. Drones are aiding farmers to keep an eye on their field remotely, cutting down the time to survey a 12-acre field from 100 hours to just 2 hours.

(Source: The Boston Globe)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

While drones are technically also unmanned aerial vehicles, there are some clear differences between the two categories. The international community agrees with the following differences that set UAVs apart from drones:

  1. Drones are typically operated and launched by just one person, while UAVs require a ground crew for launch.
  2. Drones are capable of hovering place, while UAVs utilize fixed-wing designs that allow for higher speeds but not for hovering capabilities
  3. UAVs can carry weapons while drones are banned from doing the same.
  4. UAVs are typically operated by the military, while drones are operated by civilians, though there can be some overlap.

13. The fastest unmanned vehicle that was ever created flew at a mind-boggling 11,854 km/hr: NASA’s ‘X’ series of planes is an experimental series of planes custom-built for a variety of testing purposes. The X-43A was built to demonstrate the power of scramjet technology. On November 16, 2004, the X-43A was scheduled for its final flight. The plane was fueled and launched. As soon as it’s Pegasus ScramJet was activated, the onlookers knew they were witnessing history in the making. The X-43A achieved a speed of 9.6 Mach (9.6 times the speed of sound).

(Source: NASA)

14. The largest UAV in the world is the size of a Boeing 737: Israel Aerospace Industries unveiled their UAV named ‘Eitan’. Eitan has a wingspan of 86 feet, with a length of 46 feet, almost making it the size of a Boeing 737. It is the largest UAV in service today, capable of staying in the air for over 20 hours at an altitude of 45,000 feet.

(Source: Airforce-Technology)

15. Military drones have killed 2515 – 4026 people in Pakistan: Many countries have been using military drones for various purposes including using them for remotely eliminating threats. The USA has been using drones to bomb suspected terrorist camps in Pakistan since 2004. These bombings have claimed anywhere from 2515 – 4026 lives in Pakistan, of which at least 424 – 969 were confirmed as civilians out of which 172 – 207 were confirmed to be children.

(Source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

16. The longest duration for an unmanned aerial vehicle is 26 days: The UAV named Zephyr S HAPS, designed by the British defense contractor Qinetiq and manufactured and overseen by Airbus. The Zephyr S HAPS set its record over Arizona, the USA, from 11th July to 5th August 2018. It has solar panels capable of charging the UAV through the day and fly using that power through the night. It was designed for satellite grade surveillance but capable of launching on-demand. According to Airbus Zephyr will soon be capable of flying for months at a time.

(Source: Airbus)

17. Terrorists once used a software worth $26 to shut US UAVs down: In 2009, the US government was using drones to gather intel to aid in the war in Afghanistan. These drones were controlled using satellites, but the feed from the satellite to the drone was unencrypted. Insurgents took advantage of that by using a Russian software named ‘Skygrabber,’ worth only $26. This enabled them to hack into the video feed of the drones. They could then predict where the drone was flying and hide the information they didn’t want the US to see.

(Source: The Guardian)

References and Data Sources

  1. Goldman Sachs
  2. Toptal
  3. FAA
  4. Finding Dulcinea
  5. The Verge
  6. NDTV
  7. Intelligent Energy
  8. Dronezine
  9. Drone Base
  10. DJI
  11. Altitude University
  12. The Boston Globe
  13. NASA
  14. Airforce-Technology
  15. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  16. Airbus
  17. The Guardian