113 votes
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Why are military drones shaped so strangely?

The whale-shaped forward fuselage covers a parabolic antenna for a high-bandwidth datalink. The operators want to receive the reconnaissance data in real time, and by giving the antenna the best place ...
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54 votes

Why are military drones shaped so strangely?

The biggest reason UAVs look like they do is because they don't need to carry a human, or the life support and avionics displays that human would need. The designs, therefore, are built around what ...
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39 votes
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Why would only a specific model of drone be allowed to fly over crowds?

CNN has applied for and received multiple waivers for 14 CFR § 107.39 Operation over human beings as allowed by § 107.205 List of regulations subject to waiver. Issued August 29, 2016 — This ...
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  • 758
36 votes
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Why are predator drones being used over civilian California?

An article from 2001, TESTING SPY PLANES GRAY BUTTE AIRFIELD TO BE REOPENED says, General Atomics, which makes the Predator in San Diego, has been conducting final production tests and checkout ...
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  • 3,064
36 votes
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How do airports detect drones?

The number of drone sightings near airports is increasing (apart from last year), and frequently this results in temporary interruption of operations at airports, with enormous economic consequences. ...
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27 votes

Why aren't swarms of cheap consumer-level drones a viable anti-aircraft tactic?

If a drone has a one-in-five-thousand chance of bringing down an aircraft, that makes it a serious danger on a civilian airport, but useless as a weapon for attacking military planes. And if you want ...
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26 votes
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How do drones overcome latency?

There are multiple ways to fly and control Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones, for e.g. the Predator. Source: science.howstuffworks.com Some UAVs (like the Global Hawk) can perform the entire ...
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  • 98.5k
26 votes

Why are military drones shaped so strangely?

Who says they are weird shaped? Maybe the 172 is weird... The short answer is that it's the best design for the mission and the specific application. The 172 is designed to carry people and train ...
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  • 96k
26 votes
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Do I need to register my drone?

If: Your unmanned aircraft weighs between 250g and 25kg (including fuel and cargo), You are not flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as section 336 You intend to operate it ...
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  • 4,684
24 votes
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What is the purpose of these odd "control surfaces" on the BAE Taranis?

They look like spoilers but are more precisely called drag rudders. They are not meant to reduce lift like regular spoilers, but increase drag in order to create a yawing moment. Regular aircraft ...
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23 votes
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Does the Predator drone's design make a tail strike more likely on takeoff and landing?

The tail arrangement was initially chosen to protect the propeller from touching the ground first. The configuration of what later became the Predator was initially designed to be launched from a ...
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23 votes
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What does the "remote control" for a QF-4 look like?

Here's a photo: Retired Lt. Col. Thomas Mudge, a ground controller for the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, remotely pilots a QF-4 during a Combat Archer mission May 12, 2015 at Tyndall Air Force Base, ...
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23 votes

What's the minimum number of sensors for a hobby GPS waypoint-following UAV?

The absolute minimum for a generalized vehicle that needs to know its position and attitude (orientation) in space is one per degree of freedom. This can be reduced if we have information about the ...
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23 votes

Why aren't swarms of cheap consumer-level drones a viable anti-aircraft tactic?

Great. But what advantage does this offer compared to just designing a missile with an expanding rod fragmentation warhead to take out an aircraft? While your comments are true that small drones have ...
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22 votes

Why would only a specific model of drone be allowed to fly over crowds?

Special permissions can be granted for platforms with sufficient redundancy. For example, if you have 4 props and one fails you'll crash. But if you have eight (in the correct pattern) and one fails, ...
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  • 221
20 votes
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How does drone reliance on GPS make it 'semi-stealthy'?

For being remotely controlled, drones need to emit and receive a radio signal. If the outgoing signal contains a video feed, it will be high bandwidth and be like a beacon announcing the location of ...
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19 votes

Why are predator drones being used over civilian California?

ChrisW's answer covers "why the Predator?" (El Mirage Field is used by General Atomics for test-flying their drones), which makes "Why the Cessna?" easy to answer: if General Atomics is test-flying a ...
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  • 4,684
19 votes

Can quadrotors be used for commercial passenger flights?

The three most important factors in passenger air travel are safety, safety & safety. So that is where most of the questions will focus on, and where most of the engineering effort will be put ...
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  • 57.8k
17 votes
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What exactly is a "drone"?

General usage According to Etymology Online The term drone, meaning "pilotless aircraft" dates from 1946. It evidently encompasses all types of aircraft where no onboard human pilot is ...
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16 votes
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Can a UAV defend itself?

The existing answers are, of course, correct that most current UAVs do not have much in the way of options for defending themselves against attacks by fighters. This, however, is due primarily to the ...
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  • 18.9k
16 votes

How precisely are airspace borders defined?

The boundaries are defined more precisely than the chart can show. What you see on the chart is a visual representation of the text published in JO 7400.9Z (or the most recent version of it): AWP ...
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  • 70.2k
16 votes

Why aren't swarms of cheap consumer-level drones a viable anti-aircraft tactic?

Payload. Inexpensive quadrotors have a very limited carrying capacity. I have a HolyStone HS720E. ~$300. A measured 200 grams lifting capacity, and that with reduced control in flight, and much ...
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  • 4,212
15 votes
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Can a drone travel beyond the range of its remote control signal?

If the controlling software allows it then yes. There's at least one drone available where autonomous flight is possible; the Vision 2 FAQ says that the drone will continue its "mission" even if you ...
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  • 70.2k
15 votes

Why would only a specific model of drone be allowed to fly over crowds?

The most likely explanation is that CNN has a waiver from the FAA for certain operations. A waiver is a limited permission to deviate from the regulations and they're very common. In fact, for some ...
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  • 70.2k
15 votes

What's the minimum number of sensors for a hobby GPS waypoint-following UAV?

It's probably possible with only the GPS receiver, but it wouldn't be easy and you might have to make some compromises on the airframe design to achieve the necessary passive stability. The ...
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  • 4,561
14 votes

Why don't drones use ducted fans?

The reason not many drones use ducted fans is efficiency. Ducted fans are great for fast forward flight but not for static lift. Explanation: Yes, the 'duct' reduces losses at the blade tips, However,...
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  • 149
14 votes

Is it possible to get permission to fly in the DCA “no drone” area?

Yes. This page comes up on a quick Google search. Flying an unmanned aircraft within the 15-mile radius inner ring is prohibited without specific FAA authorization. Experienced Part 107 and public ...
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13 votes
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What damage can occur and what penalties will you face for flying a quad rotor into a restricted airspace?

The legal issues are covered in another question. The FAA doesn't currently regulate recreational model aircraft operations, which includes quadcopters. Were you to actually fly it over the fence, ...
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  • 10.5k
13 votes
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Was the unmanned flight and landing of the Buran spacecraft in 1988 exceptional?

Your question is very subjective, but I think there are two ways to look at it: Building a working space plane is pretty exceptional. or There's really nothing it did that wasn't done by something ...
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13 votes
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Would a drone strike be more dangerous than a bird strike?

There is a numerical study on the topic at VirginiaTech, where they simulated a 5kg drone being ingested by a turbofan, some pictures related to the study below: On the same Aerospace America ...
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