How RC Helicopters Became Sophisticated Flying Machines
My name is Desiree Xu. 30 years ago I came across a remote control toy I liked, and right there and then realized the magic of controlling an object from a distance, by holding a small RC (remote control) unit in my hand.
I quickly launched my first RC Toys company, selling a variety of radio controlled toys like rc boats, rc cars, rc airplanes & rc trucks. The business of course was created to make money, but the look of joy kids have when they are controlling a rc toy is priceless, and gave me huge satisfaction.
Just like adult kids, the stronger and more powerful the RC toy is, the more pleasure the kids get out of playing with it and controlling it. Originally, the best selling category of rc toys was the rc stunt cars. Sure, a rc car racing around, going forward and backwards, turning left and right is exciting, but the remote control stunt cars, with their ability to flip and perform acrobatic maneuvers were always the most exciting.
RC Toys continued to develop in all aspects; variety, sophistication and attractiveness both in the look of the toy and the performance. As a category of toys, and as a business, the RC toys were rising steadily.
A very major development occurred in 1993: the first RC Helicopters were invented, created and put on the market. The radio controlled helicopters shook the toy industry to the core. It was like an “earthquake” for the toy industry. The action moved up into the air. The excitement of controlling a toy from a distance on the ground became the excitement and fun of controlling and watching a toy fly: true, just rc toys, but the rc helicopters fly, behave and act like real helicopters. Now every child can be a helicopter pilot.
In 1995, the rc helicopters have taken over the toys industry and the world by storm. Chinese factories and business people realized what was going on, and devoted themselves to making better, faster and more capable remote control helicopters. In a blink of an eye, the industry was manufacturing all kinds of rc helicopters, in a variety never even imaged before: mini rc helicopters, micro sized rc helicopters, indoor remote control helicopters, outdoor radio control helicopters, larger and heavier, smaller and lighter, every possible kind, shape and size of rc helicopters was being created, designed, produced, shipped and observed by children of all ages around the world with an insatiable appetite for these flying rc helicopters.
Just in the last few years, the rc helicopters boom has turned into a drone craze. What exactly is a drone, also called UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)? Drones in the military sense are weapons, sophisticated unmanned flying machines with weapons, used for military purposes. The media and the world have named any kind of rc flying machine, anything that can fly and be controlled via an rc unit a drone. In other words, any rc helicopter, large or small, is called a drone providing it has a camera or video camera attached.
Just like the rc helicopters, the rc drones come in a variety of shapes & sizes, with different specifications and different prices. They are in fact…like cars. There is a drone for everyone. Large drones, small drones, fast drones, drones that are more for fun and indoor flying, and drones that are larger, heavier, better equipped and are in fact “working drones”.
Drones have many names. If they come with 3 rotors, they are called “tri-copters”. Most drones come with 4 rotors, and are therefore called “Quadcopters”. Most UAV drones come with 4 rotors, and therefore the “quadcopters” are dominating the drone market, and flying rc helicopters are called “quadcopters” just as much as “drones”. If the rc helicopter has 6 rotors it becomes a “hexacopter” and in some cases, the drones come with 8 rotors, when extra power and lifting ability is needed, and these drones are called “octocopters”. Remember, all rc helicopters, regardless of shape, size, price and lifting ability must have a camera or video camera attached in order to be a “drone”, otherwise they are just…rc helicopters.
The drones are first and foremost fun to fly, and most people flying them are hobby enthusiasts who enjoy…playing. Just kids. The cost for these toys is very high, and so is the level of sophistication, but, most people, and most drones, are still essentially toys. Until recently. Now, once again, the drones have evolved.
Anytime a rc helicopter has more than one rotor, it is called a…multirotor. But…the exact same drone is also called a…multicopter. If we have 4 rotors, the quadcopter is also called…a quadrotor. All UAV drones, quadcopters, multirotors and multicopters are naturally controlled from a distance with a remote control unit, some people use the “RC” like rc drone, rc quadcopter and rc multicopter.
The single most important use of drones, which are also called quadcopters, multicopters & multirotors, is aerial photography. Amazing images and live stream videos that never before could be captured, are now available. Drones are filming cities, buildings, properties, and more often, natural wonders like lakes and canyons.
The current, most up to date status of drones, quadcoptes and all kinds of multirotors is developing and designing drones that have real uses in every day life. New drones are capable of making deliveries, washing windows of tall buildings from the outside, putting out fires, spraying, searching and rescuing people and animals not only in nature, but also in buildings, where drones are becoming an important tool for police and other security agencies. In addition, drones are becoming so large and strong with so much lifting power, they are also now being used to lift people and save them from burning buildings or sinking boats.
Conclusion: there are thousands of people around the globe, working 24/7, to design better, faster and more capable drones. In just a few months from now, the UAV drone industry will reach a new unprecedented level of sophistication. Real helicopters have evolved over a period of 50 years, and rc helicopters, or UAV drones, are evolving in a blink of an eye. Essentially drones can do everything, or almost everything a real helicopter can do. And because they come in very small sizes, they will soon have many indoor uses too. Oh…my drone, Archie, has just brought me my coffee.
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