Slideshow: Drones Past, Present, and Future

Intrepid museum exhibition showcases unmanned aerial vehicles for the military, medicine, and the arts

5 October 2017

What is a drone? That’s for visitors to decide, says Eric Boehm, a curator of the drones exhibition at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, in New York City.

As I walked through the 550-square-meter showroom, I was astounded to learn about the many ways drones are used, such as delivering medicine to remote regions and monitoring the strength of a hurricane in real time. The unmanned aerial vehicles vary greatly in size and in their degree of automation, and some are even designed to transport people. 

Here’s what visitors can see.

IEEE is cosponsoring the exhibition. The IEEE Life Members Fund of the IEEE Foundation provided a grant to the IEEE New York Section, which teamed up with the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and the IEEE History Center on the exhibition, a professional development course for teachers, and a technical event with the IEEE New York Section

Senior Member Missy Cummings—one of the first female fighter pilots for the U.S. Navy—is among the exhibition’s three curators. She is the director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., where she builds interfaces for drones. She founded Autonometrics, a company in Chapel Hill, N.C., that works on autonomous systems development. 

The drone exhibition, scheduled to run until 3 December, is free with museum admission. IEEE members receive a 10 percent discount on museum membership—part of an ongoing partnership.

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