Ron Wilson, Altera
By now, thanks to the attentions of marketing writers and news reporters, the word “drone” is overloaded with meanings. Let’s set aside traditional senses: a low-frequency, continuous sound; a male bee; an unsounded string on a musical instrument. We are interested in aircraft.
Somehow in the mid-20th century the military began calling unmanned target aircraft drones. In this century the name has spread–first to other types of unmanned military aircraft, and then to all manner of commercial and consumer flying machines. This article will introduce a taxonomy of these latter drones. We will show that the categories reflect not only manner of use, but also the system architecture. And we will argue that this list of system architectures predicts the roadmap of many different kinds of embedded system designs across the next five years.
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