Drones have been thought of as having two uses since they have become well known. These are bombing people and delivering things to people.
Amazon, Google and Dominos have had well documented experiments with these to try and crack the elusive 30 minute unmanned delivery barrier. The American military have also been using unmanned drones to controversially destroy targets for several years, killing thousands of enemy combatants and reportedly civilians in the process.
However, it seems that drones have gone beyond these limited uses.
Even in the civilian space, it is possible to get a drone that allows you to take photos or video of difficult to reach places. The uses of these can go beyond interesting videos though, they can be used for the imaging of large areas without the expensive necessity of a traditional aircraft. This can create vast amounts of images that can then be analysed.
These can be used for industrial means, for instance a farm could utilise a drone to quickly see the state of fields of crops that would not be possible from ground level. This would then allow farmers to be able to target what needs to be done in specific areas like pesticide spreading or leak repair. It means that they could both save money and time.
Similarly with construction sites, it would be possible to map large areas accurately. According to Chris Anderson, CEO of 3DRobotics, drones have the potential to collect half a terabyte of data in an hour, meaning that measurements and high quality images could be used to model an area and create realistic plans significantly faster than we can at the moment.
The opportunity for businesses also comes hand-in-hand with the opportunity for humanitarian causes.
Drones were recently used in search and rescue operations in the Washington mudslides from March 2014 and they could be used in more remote areas of the world. Their capabilities could see them being deployed to remote areas of third world countries which have poor infrastructure and are therefore less suited to traditional search and rescue efforts. The data from these could help to co-ordinate rescue efforts to the places that need them most, without the need to communicate with these areas beforehand.
This technology has the potential to show us a level that we seldomly see, as Chris Anderson says, it could do for the sky what google street view, did for our streets.