We humans have searched for ways to join our avian friends in the air for ages and while some have gone the distance, most of us will settle for the secondhand thrill of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Although full-sized military tests of propeller-laden vertical take off and landing (VTOL) crafts may have underwhelmed, a variety of scaled down multirotor drones have found their niche. Recent improvements in programming, stabilization, power and price have turned these backyard playthings into high-definition eyes in the sky -- for better or worse. This week's Rewind skims the history of these flying machines over the years as they've grown fragile buzzing toys into tools for capturing majestic scenery, inspecting machines and structures, scouting dangerous terrain and occasionally having a little fun.
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