Non-military and Commercial Applications
While the military was instrumental in using drones for spying or aerial attacks on military targets, the drone's usage has expanded to more civilian applications including police work, firefighting, and inspection of remote locations such as on oil pipelines or power lines.
Drones are becoming more widely used in sporting events such as the recent Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where they were used to capture closeups of athletes performances in downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Gas and oil exploration has benefited from the drone. It is being used to calculate underlying rock structures which enable geophysicists to determine the location of mineral deposits for mining purposes.
Natural disasters occurring in remote areas have always been difficult to assess because of the inability to physically travel there. However, the drone can map out the disaster event and help people determine what resources are needed to help those in need.
Drones also enable governments to monitor their protected lands such as archaeological sites in remote areas. Peru uses drones for the colonial town of Machu Llacta which is 13.000 feet above sea level. Surveying the land and also watching for squatters and miners is a major purpose for drones.
The drone has also become very popular with hobby enthusiasts who now have the capability of buying them from many retail sites. This popular activity was basically an extension of the earlier remote controlled model airplanes.
Private Sector Guidelines
The guidelines for the private sector use of drones is handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For hobbyists, drones must be flown below 400 feet from the ground and be constantly within the sight of the operator.
There have been problem incidents with drones, though. Incidents where the drones were operated by inexperienced pilots that resulted in crashes have occurred as was recorded in September 2013 when one crashed into a building in Manhattan. Luckily no one was hurt but the operator was fined $2,200 for flying in restricted air space in a careless manner.
In Florida, a March 2014 incident occurred at a Tallahassee Regional Airport when a plane flying 2,300 feet came close to a drone. The fear was that the drone would fly into the engine of the plane with serious consequences.
As with many things, most people use care and have common sense when using something like a drone but there are some who should never be allowed to operate this device especially after a serious incident.