How unmanned aerial drones will change your life

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said this week it plans to purchase drones -- small, remote-controlled, camera-carrying aircraft -- to watch for illegal activity among hunters. (Credit: CNN)Apart from what they do for the military; drones have already proven themselves capable sheep herders, delivery boys, tour guides, filmmakers, archaeologists, and — possibly — spies.

The global economic potential of these machines is astounding; a recent study estimated the worldwide market for unmaned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at $89 billion in 2013.

Proponents are eager to point out the many ways they’re going to make our lives better.

“Really, this technology is an extra tool to help an industry be more effective,” says Gretchen West, the executive vice president for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

“With precision agriculture, for example, it can take pictures of fields so farmers can identify problems they wouldn’t necessarily see walking through the fields. In law enforcement, you could find a child lost in the woods more easily than walking through a field, particularly if there’s bad weather or treacherous ground.”

While it may seem that drones are set to take over our lives, the reality is a bit more complicated. Drone usage around the world is definitely picking up in the public sector, but when it comes to commercial activity, many countries have strict limitations.

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