Civilian use of tiny drones may soon fly in US

November 30, 2011 | Source: Seattle Times

Drone aircraft may be coming soon to the skies near you.

Police agencies want drones for air support to find runaway criminals. Utility companies expect they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers believe drones could aid in spraying crops with pesticides.

The FAA hasn’t permitted drones in U.S. airspace on a wide scale out of concern they don’t have an adequate “detect, sense and avoid” technology to prevent midair collisions; other concerns include privacy.

AeroVironment has developed its first small helicopter drone designed specifically for law enforcement. Matternet, a Singularity University spinoff, has proposed a network of drones to deliver food and medicine worldwide in isolated regions without roads.