Infographic – The Past and Future of Drones in the U.S.

Americans have a long love affair with aviation, so why should unmanned aviation be any different? Truth is, it probably won’t be, as tens of thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, will launch into the skies over the U.S. in the next couple of decades. What’s our history with drones, how are they being used, what’s to come, and what are some of the legal issues with expanding the use of civilian drones?

How Drones Are Being Used

A Supreme Court ruling in the 1980s found that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t necessarily prohibit the government from carrying out aerial surveillance, even without a warrant. As technology continues to improve, there’s little doubt you can expect to see more UAVs in the skies over the U.S. (6)

What they’re used for: (7)

  • Weather detection
  • 3D mapping
  • Monitoring wildlife
  • Farming
  • Search and rescue
  • Law enforcement

How They Might Be Used in the Future

As the cost of drones becomes cheaper thanks to the same kinds of innovations that make smartphones increasingly small, domestic drone uses will continue to expand. Here’s a look at likely technology drones will have in the coming years: (6)

  • Night vision
  • High-powered zoom
  • See-through imaging
  • Video analysis

With those advancements should come discussions over privacy. Here are a few of the areas of concern: (6)

  • Mission creep
  • Tracking
  • Discriminatory targeting
  • Institutional abuse
  • Automated law enforcement


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