An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with laser-guided munitions and Hellfire missiles, flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. The Reaper has been in use since 2007.
Lt. Col.. Leslie Pratt/U.S. Air Force/AP
Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use a hexacopter -- a six-winged camera-loaded drone -- to monitor whales off the coast of New England in July. Acquired under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit 17355-01 and NOAA Class G flight authorization 2015-ESA-4-NOAA; Photo by John Durban, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA; and Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
An AeroVironment Puma drone undergoes pre-flight tests in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on June 7, 2014. The drone will be used to survey roads, pipelines and other equipment at the largest oil field in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration authorized BP to conduct the first-ever commercial drone flights over land.
A drone camera follows Norway's Aleksander Aurdal during the men's slopestyle finals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Members of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office fly their search-and-rescue drone during a demonstration in Brigham City, Utah, on February 13, 2014. Gov. Gary Hebert has approved the state's first drone restrictions, setting new limits on law enforcement's use of the technology.
Christopher Brown of the Next New Homes Group uses a drone to take aerial video of a home in Sacramento, California, on February 25, 2014. Drones are increasingly being used by small companies to shoot promotional videos.
Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT/Getty Images
A researcher at the University of California, Davis, removes sprayer containers from a drone after a crop dusting test flight in Arbuckle, California, on February 5, 2014. UC Davis is testing the use of unmanned helicopters for agriculture. The FAA does not currently allow pesticide spraying from drones in the United States.
Ken James/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A drone delivers medicine from a nearby pharmacy to the Deutsche Post headquarters in Bonn, Germany, on December 9, 2013. The company was testing the viability of using drones to deliver small packages over short distances. Online retailer Amazon has also announced plans to start using unmanned flying vehicles.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
A drone designed to capture footage of illegal hunting activities lands after taking footage at Erwin Wilder Wildlife Management Area in Norton, Massachusetts, on October 21, 2013.
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images
A NASA Global Hawk drone sits in an airplane hangar during a Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, on September 10, 2013. The HS3 mission uses two of the unmanned aircraft to fly over tropical storms and hurricanes to monitor weather conditions.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Luis Jaime Castillo, a Peruvian archaeologist, uses a drone to take pictures of the archaeological site of San Jose de Moro in Trujillo on July 18, 2013. In Peru, home to Machu Picchu and thousands of ancient ruins, archaeologists are turning to drones to speed up sluggish survey work and protect sites from squatters, builders and miners.
A drone fitted with a film camera shoots aerial footage during the production of the film "The Girl with the Indian Emerald" in Jaipur, India, on November 7, 2012. While it's already being done in other countries, the U.S. government is considering a request from movie and TV producers to let them use unmanned aircraft to shoot aerial video.
A man controls an Parrot AR Drone with an iPad during the press preview day of the International Toy Fair in Nuernberg, Germany, on February 2, 2011.
Miguel Villagran/Getty Images
Derek Charlton of the Merseyside Police operates the department's new aerial surveillance drone in Liverpool, England, on May 21, 2007.
JOHN GILES/PA Photos/Landov
U.S. Marine Sgt. Nicholas Bender launches a Raven surveillance drone from Marine base near the remote village of Baqwa, Afghanistan, on March 21, 2009. Marines use the unmanned aerial vehicles to get real-time intelligence on Taliban movements.