Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known these days as drones, have been with us for more than a century. The earliest example that we might recognise as a drone appeared in 1916, a radio-controlled pilotless aircraft developed for military use. Drones would continue to find military applications throughout the 20th century.
The breakthrough came when the Parrot AR Drone, a smartphone-controlled quadcopter for consumers, was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2010. Technology improvements came thick and fast, and today the quadcopter drone is a common sight around the world, from a $20 toy to sophisticated professional craft. Goldman Sachs forecasts the total drone market size to be worth $100 billion. Commercially, they are proving their value across a wide range of industries from construction to agriculture, mining to oil and gas – and the solar power sector.