The hobby of Radio controlled aviation has been around for about 40 years. With modern technology (solid state gyroscopic sensors to be specific) we are able to get some very bizarre and incredible machines to fly. The first time the term “drone” was attached to an unmanned aircraft was when the military began using unmanned recon aircraft in the Cold War and during the Vietnam conflict. Now pop culture and the media have attached this term to small aircraft used for photography purposes or just fun.
There are two main types of these aircraft that are commonly equipped with cameras and live feed video. There are fixed wing aircraft, commonly known as airplanes, that typically have one or two motors and propellers that provide forward thrust to make the airplane fly. Then there are multirotors that have anywhere from 3 to 8 motors and propellers that they use to provide upward thrust, like the rotors on a helicopter, to hover. The most common type of multirotor is a quadcopter. They use 4 motors and come in a “+” configuration and an “X” configuration. Most of these machines are miniscule in size. Many you could hold in your palm. There are a few that can be as big as half a meter from motor to motor.
There is a common misconception that these machines could be used as an invasion of privacy. The truth is they can BUT someone with bad intentions would have to spend thousands of dollars and build a very complicated and LOUD machine that anyone that would be getting “spied” on hear it before they could be seen. As for most of us hobbyists we are very responsible about where we fly and what we do.
FPV is an acronym for “first person view”. FPV is a very exiting experience as it puts you virtually in the aircraft by way of video goggles or a TV screen. What this allows you to do is fly the machine live through the goggles or screen as if you were in it. A new sport has come out of this. Its called FPV racing. People take small fast multirotors, set up a course in the woods or a safe urban area like an empty parking garage, and race their machines at speeds of 10 to 65 mph.
Photo credit: Alex Granlund
sources: http://flitetest.com/articles/fpv-racing-w-multigp and various human sources as well as personal experience