by Sean Holstege
Long a symbol of the nation’s high-tech war on terror, drones are moving from the battlefield and borderlands into everyday American life.
Industry experts predict 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will be flying in the U.S. by the end of the decade. The expansion is driven by technological advances that have made them smaller, more sophisticated and cheaper, and new federal aviation rules that will open the skies to an array of drones by late 2015.
Robotic aircraft promise great advances in everything from humanitarian relief and environmental protection to news gathering and real-estate marketing, industry champions say.
In Arizona, UAVs have already been used for firefighting and crop management and are being tested for search-and-rescue missions. Elsewhere, they’re being deployed to shoot video for television news and conduct law-enforcement surveillance.
“We’re not talking about next-generation. We’re talking the next five years,” said Raynald Bedard, an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus, where students are preparing for careers in unmanned aviation.
Arizona hopes to lead the trend, wanting a piece of an industry expected to nearly double in size this decade. Worldwide sales are projected to balloon from $6.6 billion this year to $11.4 billion by 2020, according to defense-industry analysts at the Teal Group in Virginia. The state this month will bid to become one of six federal test sites for expanded, non-military use of drones/
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/07/07/20120707arizona-unmanned-drones-concerns.html#ixzz200wTK3Bv