UAS Technology

Weighing Capabilities, Possibilities, and Safety

What Is an UAS

An Unmanned Aerial System, which is often referred to as a drone, is defined as an aircraft that does not require a human pilot to function properly. Due to the size and various specifications of an Unmanned Aerial System, it is inherently different from a manned aircraft. Unmanned Aerial Systems come in a plethora of shapes and sizes with unique functions for each of them. Typically they are maneuvered by a portable remote control or by ground-based control unit, with the intention of completing tasks that would be considered dangerous or impractical for larger manned aircrafts. Unmanned Aerial Systems are mostly found in the military environment, but have recently been proving to have various practical civilian applications. These civilian applications are primarily commercial, educational, and research. If the same steady pace of research currently being conducted on Unmanned Aerial Systems continues, the future of the civilized world will heavily depend on them.

The Technology

Lift and Weight

To get off the ground, a drone must be able to generate lift, a force that pushes air out from underneath the drone, allowing the drone to gain height. Generally, this is handled by propellers mounted on the drone, which spin with tremendous speed, pushing air from above towards the ground, and in the process lifting the drone into the air. More propellers mean more air is being pushed towards the ground, and over a wider area of land. The effect: added stability. Thus, unlike their helicopter counterparts, drones employ multiple propellers (often 4 or more), to gain the stability....

Applications and Uses

Commercial Applications

The potential commercial uses of Unmanned Aerial Systems are endless, but the application being primarily discussed is in the delivery industry. Many companies such as Amazon and various pizza companies have expressed public interest in using Unmanned Aerial Systems as a form of delivery. These delivery systems would require many different sized drones created to specifically cater to a certain type of item. To avoid damage to the product being delivered, not only would protective covering be given to the item being delivered, but also a mini parachute could potentially be placed....


Legality & Policy

When considering the usage of unmanned aerial systems, a multitude of controversies arise over their implementation, namely over issues of legality and policy, to name a few. The use of unmanned aerial systems themselves does not change the legal analysis regarding the United States government’s killing policy, however, the way in which these devices are used to combat terrorism raises some questions about international law, mainly due to the conflict itself, the location and identity of the target of the drones, and the location and identity of the operator themselves. Since many CIA personnel who conduct many targeting operations do not wear uniforms, they violate the principle of distinction and are considered, under international law, as unlawful combatants. They then become military targets in the United States government’s conflict with Al Qaeda and could be prosecuted for law of war violations that are committed by the drones they are in control of.

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