10 Non-murderous Things Drones Do Every Day

While military drones like the one pictured here continue to be the subject of controversy, you may not realize that drones have been doing all sorts of helpful things for years. © Ted Horowitz/Corbis

Orville and Wilbur Wright would gape in awe at today's flying machines. Not only are these contraptions flying faster and farther than ever before, but some can do it all without so much as a single human being on board. The days of the drones are upon us -- whether we like it or not.

Drones, which are also called unmanned aerial vehicles (or UAVs), are contraptions that take to the air without human pilots in the cockpit. Instead, people control drones from the ground or, increasingly, the drones simply fly themselves without the need for human intervention.

These machines take all shapes and sizes, all made to address different airborne tasks. Venture capitalists dumped more than $40 million into drone-related startups in 2013, and sales of UAVs could top $8 billion within 10 years [source: Bloomberg]. In spite of this growth spurt, drones are not without controversy.

For years, drones have been making headlines all over the world, as the U.S. and other countries use them for swift and hard-to-anticipate military strikes. That's why many people associate drones with mechanized, faceless Orwellian warfare.

But drones do a lot of other jobs, too, none of which have anything to do with hurting people. These non-lethal drones are on the cusp of transforming all sorts of industries and could revolutionize our economy and lifestyles in ways we could have only dreamed of just a few years ago.

Keep reading and you'll see all sorts of non-murderous missions for UAVs. Don't fear drone-darkened skies just yet -- they may be friendlier than you think.