I picked up this little nifty book at the Wellcome Collection. The bookshop there (a derivative of Blackwells) is great for lots of science books, especially ones that you don’t typically find in most Waterstones.

I’ve always had an interest in drones, not sure why, I’ve never owned one (before this Christmas anyway) and never really gone out and seen people fly them, but when I do see them i’m always quite jealous and really want the super expensive ones. So I thought an introductory book on the story and uses of drones would be good. The book is part of a series called ‘Object Lessons’ with topics such as golf balls, waste and shipping containers, so thought I’d pick the one up on drones.


It’s quite small (189 pages, 44 of which are references and index), but it gave a brief introduction to what drones are, where they came from and how they have become such a big deal lately.

The introduction touches on the fact that drones are the mixture of four technologies: an automobile, an aircraft, a computer and a robot. From this, it goes into the history of drones and how they have been around far longer than people have realised. Firstly used for target practice in the military then slowly adapted for unmanned flights across hostile areas to unmanned missile launchers to hobbyists using them for numerous purposes.

The best thing this book taught me is this: the only difference between a military drone and a robot vacuum cleaner (both have lots of location sensors, able to sense out people out and can map their surroundings), is that drones sometimes have weapons. I found this hilariously amazing, because the more I read, the more I realised that drones are pretty much weaponised Roomba’s that can also fly. The book touches on the fear people have of drones, but not for a Roomba, mostly as drones are almost always portrayed as autonomous killing machines by news outlets across the world.

Overall: 6/10