Why is it called a Drone?

Before drone meant UAV, drones were male honeybees. The word is from the Old English dran or dru00e6n. Like many English words, it has its roots in proto-German: dran.

u201cDrones are bigger and heavier than worker bees, and they leave the hive and swarm in the fall. They are renowned for a sort of mindless, driven existence: they don’t gather honey, they don’t defend or maintain the hive, and their only purpose is to impregnate a queen bee.

u201cUsing drone for the RPVs [Radio Piloted Vehicles] emphasized the fact that they had no mind of their own. And no doubt the buzzing flight of an RPV also reminded them of another flying buzzer.u201d

Drone has been used as a term for UAVs since at least 1946, such as in this Popular Science magazine article: u00a0u201cDrones, 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.u201d