S: https://www.sensefly.com/applications/humanitarian.html (last access: 29 July 2016); BBC – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-10713898 (last access: 29 July 2016).
N: 1. Old English dran, dræn “male honeybee,” from Proto-Germanic *dran- (source also of Middle Dutch drane; Old High German treno; German Drohne, which is from Middle Low German drone), probably imitative; given a figurative sense of “idler, lazy worker” (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning “pilotless aircraft” is from 1946.
Drones, as the radio-controlled craft are called, have many potentialities, civilian and military. Some day huge mother ships may guide fleets of long-distance, cargo-carrying airplanes across continents and oceans. Long-range drones armed with atomic bombs could be flown by accompanying mother ships to their targets and in for perfect hits. (“Popular Science,” November, 1946)
Meaning “deep, continuous humming sound” is early 16c., apparently imitative (compare threnody). The verb in the sound sense is early 16c.; it often is the characteristic sound of airplane engines. Related: Droned; droning.
2. A drone, in a technological context, is an unmanned aircraft.
3. Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Essentially, a drone is a flying robot. The aircraft may be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems working in conjunction with GPS. UAVs have most often been associated with the military but they are also used for search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring and firefighting, among other things.
4. Cultural Interrelation: “Drone” is the 96th episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager, the second episode of the fifth season.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=drone (last access: 29 July 2016). 2 & 3. http://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/drone (last access: 29 July 2016). 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_(Star_Trek:_Voyager) (last access: 29 July 2016).