Up In the Air: The Rise of Commercial Drones

Up In the Air: The Rise of Commercial DronesCommand, talks of the challenges facing our nation, he pulls up a photo called “The World at Night,” which is dotted with specs of light in urban, stable regions of the globe, amid swaths of dark spots representing the dangers — often impoverished, third-world territories overrun with terrorists.

Over the last decade, and especially the last few years, special operations forces have depended on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to help fight in the shadowy spots. Whether a night raid to free humanitarian workers in Somalia, or surveillance footage amid the daring Bin Laden raid in Pakistan, drones — built with visual sensors, navigation and often weapons systems — have transformed the landscape of warfare, providing reconnaissance and first-strike capabilities in the most remote, and hostile, regions of the world.

While we’re used to the idea of UAVs being sent into the darker corners of the globe, get ready for the next stage of drones: machines that soar across our own friendly skies, as technological aids in business and law enforcement.

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