Drones in science fiction

To contextualise the drone fictions being created today, we need to look to the past and present of science fiction. Science fiction has long been technology’s best friend and worst enemy – inspiring generations of scientists and engineers, while scaring us about the dangers of their uncontrollable creations.

The dataset we developed during the research phase of Project Daedalus details 61 different uses of drones in science fiction; you can find them here. This resource is intended to help inform and provide inspiration for future projects around drones. The majority of these examples are found in novels. An instance of their use of note can be found in a YouTube series Rotor . Here, drones form a central part of the plot. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the drones still function on automated flight paths. The survivors catch the drones, to use their power sources. As well as forming part of the film’s landscape, one drone becomes a central character, after it begins to follow the protagonist.

Interestingly, the narrative in Rotor is partly developed through an innovative use of audience engagement. In the comments below the films, the creators ask the viewers for ideas of the direction of the narrative, as well as actively including some user-created footage in the series itself. This blurring between audience and creator is something worth highlighting; due to its technological capabilities, the sharing of immersive experience, collaborative engagement seems well suited to the medium. To find out more about the kinds of technological capabilities drones offer, see our section on DRONE INNOVATION.

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