Drone 101: History, Mechanics & Industrial Applications

Explore how drones have evolved when it was first used until now on, the drone’s mechanics that enable them to fly and the modern application of drones throughout industries.


Drones are extremely common these days. And whenever the word ‘drone’ appears, I bet my bottom dollar that 7 out of ten people will relate it to recreational drones that are used for photography and videography.

Little did they know that drones are more than just that. These days, drones are used widely in commercial areas and military purposes too.

Before we go any further, it is important to establish that the term ‘drone’ actually refers to any unmanned aerial vehicle, which means the pilot is actually not on board of the vehicle.

Let’s see how drones have evolved when it was first used until now on, what is the physics behind them that enable them to fly and the modern application of drones throughout industries.

History of Drones

Do you know that the first recorded Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) usage was actually to bomb a city?

That’s dark.

In the first Italian War of Independence, Austrian forces sieged the city of Venice after the latter revolted. Austrian soldiers then attacked the city of Venice with unmanned balloons filled with explosives.

Some of these Austrian Balloons were successful, but a number of them blew back and bombed the Austrians’ own lines, so the practice did not become widely adopted.

Image via Military History Now on Twitter

The first unmanned aircraft was created 16 years after the flight of the Wright’s brothers. The drone, called Ruston Proctor Aerial Target. There are few prototypes that were developed through World War I, World War II and Cold War.

You can read more extensively on the history of drones here: Dronethusiast

Drones then evolved via military applications. It was not until 2006 when the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a commercial drone permit.

Drone technology was around for so long, but only recently it came into the light and gathered interests from the crowd.

Mechanics Behind Flying a Drone

A typical multirotor drone relies on vertical motion in order to fly. Think of the drone blades as fans. The air coming out of the spinning blades pushes downward on the ground, which in turn pushes the drone into the air. The faster the motors spin, the faster the drone will accelerate off the ground.

Once the drone is airborne it can hover, fly up/down, and left/right. When the drone is hovering the upward thrust of the motors is equal to the downward force of gravity, so the drone will not move up nor down. When the force of the motors exceeds the force excreted down on the drone by gravity, it will then climb higher and vice versa.

Since there are 4 motors, changing one or more of these motors speed, compared to the others will cause the drone to turn or move in a different direction. For example, if the drone is hovering (the upward thrust of the motors is equal to the downward force of gravity), and the 2 motors on the left are given more power, the drone will lift upward on the left side, and this increased power on the left side will start pushing the drone sideways right.

Image via Wired

This is a simple summary of how a multi-rotor drone flies. Fixed wing drones are different, and a bit more complicated to explain (think of a plane).

Modern Application of Drones

Drones nowadays are especially for recreational purposes such as aerial photography and videography. These recreational activities have been in-demand for a lot of people mainly because of the quality pictures from the best cameras and right aerial angles.

But only some people know about industrial drone usage. It had helped governments in disaster management, damage surveillance, and fire fighting. While the public has been using drones to fertilise their crops, survey construction works and pipelines.

Further future drones application includes aerial transportation vehicle, delivery services, healthcare and nature conversation and much, much more.

Here, at Poladrone, we are always easily excited by the mere mention of the word ‘drone’. Founded in 2016 with the mission to accelerate drone revolution, we have long-realised the ASEAN market for drones was heavily focused on hobbyist activities such as racing and photography.

There was a clear gap in widespread utilisation of drones to address industrial problems. Thus, Poladrone was formed with the mission to be the leading drone solutions provider for industrial applications.

As one of the prominent DJI dealers in the region, we always strive to deliver solutions with the best results for our consumers.

View our products and services here.