Although drones or "unmanned aircraft" have been used for military purposes since the beginning of aerospace, the technology has only recently captured the imagination of wider audiences due to their greater affordability and ease of use. When paired with a GoPro or similar wide-angle camera, the hand-operated, GPS-guided planes today serve a variety of purposes from offering "eyes and ears" to help FIFA monitor World Cup soccer security, to delivering consumers' a bird's eye view of their physical environment. Meanwhile, they still keep servicemen out of harm's way in hostile places throughout the globe.
But what about commercial applications? As of last year, the FAA had received more than 80 applications from entities seeking drone use. And drone deployments are expected to triple over the next five years to 125,000, according to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems.