How far are we from the day drones become mainstream?

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Feds Plan Mandatory Registration of All Unmanned Drones


Drones are constantly making the headlines. Rescues, stunning footage and racing are only a few of the myriad of uses we hear about these devices. Their increasing popularity is skyrocketing and their widespread use has convinced Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to assemble a task force to regulate them. In the light of recent instances where drones went too close to restricted flying areas and interfered with attempts to extinguish fires, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Transportation Department announced that their owners will have to register these unmanned aircrafts or face penalties.

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How far are we from the day drones become mainstream?
Sgt. Jim Linn retrieves the Alameda County Sheriff's Office drone while demonstrating a search and rescue operation on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Dublin, Calif. As law enforcement joins the ranks of hobbyists sending drones into California skies, civil liberties advocates are raising the specter of unchecked police surveillance and state lawmakers are drafting limits. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
KILIS, TURKEY - OCTOBER 16: An aircraft is seen after it was downed by Turkish jets in Turkey's southern Kilis province, bordering with Syria on October 16, 2015. Turkish jets on Friday downed an unidentified aircraft near Syria border after it violated Turkish air space, the Turkish military said. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A DPD Geopost prototype drone files carrying a parcel flies during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, June 23, 2015. GeoPost, a package delivery subsidiary of LaPoste, is set to launch a programme which will see parcels delivered by drones. The GeoDrone completed its first successful automated flight last September. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 08: An Eagle owl (Hibou Grand Duc) fromf Tamer Jean-Philippe Varin who presents an animal documetary filmed by a drone during the 'Vivement Dimanche' French TV Show at Pavillon Gabriel on April 8, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
A drone flies in foreground of a partial solar eclipse in Vienna on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors to the China Hobby Expo watch a drone controlled by a mobile phone fly in Beijing Friday, April 24, 2015. Unmanned and remote-controlled aerial vehicles are gaining in popularity as prices drop and capabilities grow. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A drone is pictured in flight in Lille, northern France, on April 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini controls a drone Interceptor MP200 after it caught a DJI Phantom 2 drone with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A drone Interceptor MP200, top, catches a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A drone Interceptor MP200, top, prepares to catch a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech CEO Philippe Dubus displays a drone DJI Phantom 2 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones,either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini controls an "Army" speed drone mounted with a Go pro Hero3 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech's "Army" speed drone mounted with a Go pro Hero3 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini prepares a drone Interceptor MP200 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech CEO Philippe Dubus, right, and pilot Philippe Dardini display a drone Interceptor MP200, left, after it caught a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone is displayed during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone flies by a Rome marble statue "August en Triomphateur" during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, a quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone flies front of a Rome marble statue "August en Triomphateur" during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, a quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Federal Aviation Administration's proposed commercial drone rules could expand drone use in agriculture, filming and other ventures.
A drone camera follows Norway's Aleksander Aurdal during the men's ski slopestyle final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
The Federal Aviation Administration took an important step Sunday toward legalizing and regulating routine use of commercial drones -- though don't expect a delivery drone to bring you a fresh pizza anytime soon.The agency released its proposed requirements for unmanned commercial aircraft, saying the drones must weigh less than 55 pounds and be operated in daylight within the line-of-sight of the drone's operator.
Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux flies a Parrot Bebop drone using the Skycontroller while wearing an Oculus headset during a demonstration at a Parrot event in San Francisco, Thursday, May 8, 2014. The Parrot Bebop drone, which has a 14-megapixel fish-eye camera lens and battery life of about 12 minutes flying time, is scheduled to be released later this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
While thousands of techies, journalists, and more are descending upon Las Vegas for CES this week, we escaped the madness for a bit on Monday, traveling about an hour outside the city to the Clark County Shooting Range. But we weren’t there to shoot guns or weapons; we had come to participate in what was dubbed the “drone rodeo.”
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY REGINE LAMOTHE An engineer performs a demonstration of a drone used to previsualize camera effects on November 22, 2012, during the inauguration of the French technology Technicolor research and development, in Cesson-Sevigne, near the western city of Rennes. Technicolor, which rose from the ashes of French Thomson electronics group, is becoming the world specialist for cinema post-production. AFP PHOTO FRANK PERRY (Photo credit should read FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
This week on Drone Zone: Why Lisa Ellman is the woman shaping U.S. drone policy, who really owns your drone and how well birds are sharing the skies with drones.
Drone flying around in Moos ( Zugspitz Arena)
Drone
A SteadiDrone QU4D aerial drone fitted with a GoPro video camera hovers in a field in Knysa, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The number of civilian unmanned aircraft will reach 175,000 by 2035, most of them smaller models, a report by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Volpe National Transportation Systems Center found. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A flying drone with a camera hanging from it flies over PNC Park during the baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets on Thursday, June 26, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Three drones at grass. From left; X8, Octo, X8.
Drone
Drone and Moon
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: A drone is seen outside the Alexander Wang show on February 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE One Xtreme drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: Parrot MiniDrones fly at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A man flying a camera equipped radio controlled quadcopter drone
Man preparing for a drone flight. Texas.1-2015
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE Twist 300 drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE One Xtreme drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An attendee looks at an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: A FlyHawk drone by Eken is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The drone has a 1080p HD, 140-degree wide-angle camera and a return-to-pilot feature that allows the unit to return to wherever the operator goes using GPS. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A DJI Inspire 1 drone, manufactured by SZ DJI Technology Co., is flown during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. This year's CES will be packed with a wide array of gadgets such as drones,connected cars, a range of smart home technology designed to make everyday life more convenient and quantum dot televisions, which promise better color and lower electricity use in giant screens. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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While we tend to consider a future where drones are part of our daily lives like a scene from a sci-fi movie, this regulation makes us aware of the fact that these devices are already an integral part of today's technological evolution. Before 2009, drones were not under the spotlight, but their popularity started increasing exponentially around 2011-2012 due to the employment of unmanned aerial vehicles for combat.

So where do we stand today when it comes to drone technology? The implications of using such devices vary greatly as they are employed for useful tasks, as well as illegal ones. On July 29, a drone dropped a package containing drugs into a prison, causing a fight to break out between the inmates and forced the guards to contain the situation by pepper spraying them.

Drone Drops Drugs Into Prison Yard, Starts Fight Among Inmates

Another debate surrounding the use of drones was sparked when North Dakota police started equipping drones with weapons such as Tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas and sound cannons. While these weapons are typically non-lethal, the danger associated with their use remains and there have been a few rare instances where they caused death. Additionally, operating the devices remotely raises concern over the difficulty of limiting police abuse.

North Dakota Police Allowed to Use Drones That Fire Tear Gas and Tasers
And even bigger controversy was the case of a homemade drone with a shotgun strapped to it. A video of the device surfaced on the Internet a while ago, making many worry about the potential use of such devices.

Gun Strapped to a Flying Drone Is Legal

All these cases contributed to the necessity for some sort of regulation around their use, and, when laws don't cut it, the creation of counter-drone technology. A company developed an anti-drone rifle that can take down a UAV with a blast of radio waves. According to Engadget, the weapon weighs around 10 pounds and can reach a drone at a distance of 400 meters. The blast of electromagnetic energy it emits when the trigger is pulled disables the drone and cuts any connection from the original pilot, allowing the user to lead it down to the ground safely.

Watch an Anti-Drone 'Gun' in Action

On one hand, drones are setting off many warning alarms. On the other, they are also used for incredible feats that can benefit humanity. Besides the much debated drone delivery, which can cut down logistics time and increase access to remote areas but is still conflicting with the laws, there have been many attempts to put drones to use for a good cause. A team created a massive drone that can lift as much as 361 pounds, paving the way for drones as personal transportation.

Similarly, drones are used in research for facilitating rescue missions in dangerous areas. One example is a collaborative navigation system that uses a drone to scout an area before a robot can navigate through it by using the transmitted data. Another example is this team of drones that creates a bridge that can hold a human being:

Rescue Drones Build Rope Bridge Strong Enough for Humans


There is still much confusion about these devices, which are not inherently good or bad. While their use and applications can greatly vary depending on how we use them, they are already very central to the current technological developments and shall not be considered as a far-away reality. Countries are still trying to understand the best way to let this technology evolve while regulating its misuse, but the day where drones become mainstream is not as far as you may think.

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