From recreation and research to military surveillance and airstrikes, the term “drone” is used to describe a large group of unmanned vehicles varying widely in construct and purpose. The idea of having these machines overhead at any moment scares many and excites some. Those who are scared recall the U.S. government’s use of drones for anti-terror based bombings in the Middle East, and fear the possible invasion of privacy that would arise from constant drone-based surveillance. Others grasp the huge potential for drones in research, recreation, and business.

   First, a bit of a clarification: The drones used in airstrikes, the large, plane-like UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), are MUCH different than the small, publicly available “quadcopters.”

   The military variety of drone has been used throughout recent history for reconnaissance as well as devastating strikes delivered from afar.

   These uses have raised a serious question of morality. In some cases, the shots fired by these drones, meant to decimate groups of terrorists, kill civilians. Is killing few justifiable when the implications may turn out to be the safety of many? Or, on the other hand, is it never right to sacrifice the innocent to stop the guilty?

   On a much lighter note… drones can be fun! The camera-equipped quadcopter drones are meant to be extremely easy to fly, and allow the user to see the world from a different perspective.

   From photography, to the filming of sports events, to harassing your buddies, drones are all-around awesome.

   Drone use is important for research as well. Where people cannot go, drones can. They’re light, small, and versatile, able to be equipped with a multitude of instruments and tools. Universities and other research institutes have been able to make leaps and bounds in their scientific pursuits with the use of these unmanned vehicles.

   Bad guys? No problem for the police department with drones. From tracking criminals to search and rescue, drones are awesome for missions needing stealth, safety, speed, or surveillance without a man or woman in the field.

   Finally, believe it or not, drones can be awesome tools for businesses as well. Aerial imagery is a breeze with an unmanned, four-rotor, self-stabilizing camera in the sky. Moreover, delivery could quite possible be revolutionized using these bots as couriers. Amazon has already proposed this idea, and research is currently underway.

   Drones just aren’t so scary when you realize how cool they really are. Sure, there are some moral concerns, and, right now, the cost is a bit high… but drones are here to stay.

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