10 Non-murderous Things Drones Do Every Day

The Sky is Not the Limit
A remotely operated underwater vehicle used to check out the Baltic Sea pipeline. © Stefan Sauer/dpa/Corbis

We tend to assume that drones are airborne machines. But as drone technology progresses, these devices are bypassing the heavens and instead learning to swim.

Many new models of drone now "fly" through water on all sorts of missions. Some are used to perform underwater inspections. Companies deploy them to check on oil rigs, fish farms, assess storm damage, search water filtration systems, and view the hulls of ships.

The military uses underwater drones to search for mines. Police can use similar models to look for signs of subsurface drug smuggling. Salvage experts and recreational divers can use drones to inspect sunken ships or even to look for treasures beneath the waves.

Just as with airborne drones, there are limitless uses for underwater drones. All of these drones are literally opening new horizons for all types of businesses and organizations that need remote control robots for jobs that are too hard or too dangerous for people to perform. And while most governments will limit the uses of drones until they hammer out regulations and rules, the day that drones fills the skies and seas is closer than you might think.

Author's Note: 10 Non-murderous Things Drones Do Every Day

Particularly in the light of NSA spying revelations, a lot of media headlines regarding drones are rather negative. Writers and producers often write off drones as devices for spying on civilian populations and as weapons for attacking terrorists in far-off lands. But it's safe to say that we've scarcely scratched the surface of what drones can do -- they can work as tools for all sorts of industries to make them safer and more productive. It'll be years before government rules and policies allow for the massive unleashing of drones, but when it happens, drones will transform all sorts of organizations -- often in great ways.

Related Stories


  • American Civil Liberties Union. "Domestic Drones." ACLU.org. (Dec. 12, 2013) https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/domestic-drones
  • Associated Press. "Ecology Drones Track Endangered Wildlife." The Guardian. Aug. 20, 2012. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/aug/20/ecology-drones-endangered-wildlife
  • Associated Press. "Germany's DHL Testing Drones for Hard-to-Reach Deliveries." CTVnews. Dec. 9, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/germany-s-dhl-testing-drones-for-hard-to-reach-deliveries-1.1580887
  • Barness, Sarah. "Drone's Eye View of Burning Man Makes You Feel Like You Were There." Huffington Post. Sept. 10, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/burning-man-2013-drone_n_3900038.html#slide=more286333
  • Bergeron, Ryan. "Your Personal $849 Underwater 'Drone'". CNN. Nov. 6, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/tech/innovation/underwater-drones/
  • Chirico, Jeff. "Are Police Drones Invading Your Privacy?" CBS Atlanta. Jun. 3, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/22175057/are-police-drones-invading-your-privacy
  • Connors, Will. "Underwater Drones are Multiplying Fast." WSJ. June 24, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324183204578565460623922952
  • Etherington, Darrell. "UPS Also Said to be Testing Drone Delivery, Constant Robot Background Hum Increasingly Inevitable." Techcrunch. Dec. 3, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/03/ups-also-said-to-be-testing-drone-delivery-constant-robot-background-hum-increasingly-inevitable
  • Evans, Jon. "Amazon Drones: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap." Techcrunch. Dec. 14, 2013. (Dec. 14, 2013)http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/14/amazon-swarm/
  • Fox News. "NASA Using Surplus Military Drones to Investigate Hurricanes." Sept. 14, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/14/nasa-reportedly-using-military-drones-to-investigate-hurricanes/
  • Greene, Susan. "Mesa County, Colo. A National Leader in Domestic Drone Use." Huffington Post. June 6, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/mesa-county-colo-a-nation_n_3399876.html
  • Hamilton, Jon. "Spy Drones Turning up New Data about Hurricanes and Weather." NPR. Sept 13, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.npr.org/2013/09/13/221723991/spy-drones-turning-up-new-data-about-hurricanes-and-weather
  • Knauss, Tim. "Syracuse Bans Police Drones Until Privacy Regulations in Place." Syracuse.com. Dec. 16, 2013. (Dec. 16, 2013) http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/syracuse_bans_police_drones_until_privacy_regulations_in_place.html
  • Lobosco, Katie. "Drones Can Change the Fight Against Wildfires." CNN. Aug. 19, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/19/technology/innovation/fire-fighting-drones/
  • Love, Dylan. "A Look at Our Inevitable Drone-Filled Future." Business Insider. Dec. 16, 2013. (Dec. 16, 2013) http://www.businessinsider.com/how-drones-will-be-used-in-the-future-2013-12
  • Mortimer, Gary. "Attempted Smuggling of Cellphones by Hexacopter into Brazilian Prison." Susanews. June 1, 2012. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.suasnews.com/2012/06/16298/attempted-smuggling-of-cellphones-by-hexacopter-into-brazilian-prision/
  • NASA. "NASA's HS3 Hurricane Mission Called it a Wrap for 2013." Dec. 2, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasas-hs3-hurricane-mission-called-it-a-wrap-for-2013/
  • PBS Newshour. "How Will Thousands of Drones Impact Already Crowded Skies?" PBS.org. Dec. 14, 2013. (Dec. 14, 2013) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec13/drones_12-14.html
  • Reid, Jon. "The Pros and Cons of Drones." The Western Star. Dec. 1, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.thewesternstar.com/Opinion/Columnists/2013-12-17/article-3545939/The-pros-and-cons-of-drones/1
  • Rodriguez, Salvador. "Amazon is Not Alone: UPS, Google also Testing Delivery Drones." LA Times. Dec. 3, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-amazon-ups-google-delivery-drones-20131203,0,3320223.story
  • Sullivan, Justin. "Calif. Launches Drone to Combat Yosemite Wildfire." CBS News. Aug. 28, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/calif-launches-drone-to-combat-yosemite-wildfire/
  • Ungerleider, Neal. "The Google-Funded Drones that Hunt Illegal Hunters." Fast Company. Dec. 10, 2012. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.fastcompany.com/3003870/google-funded-drones-hunt-illegal-hunters
  • Vendituoli, Monica. "College Students Were Studying Drones Before Amazon." USAtoday. Dec. 14, 2013. (Dec. 12, 2013) http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/14/drone-college-degrees/3871039/
  • Wozniacka, Gosia. "Agriculture Most Promising Market for Drones." Fox21 News. Dec. 17, 2013. (Dec. 17, 2013) http://www.fox21news.com/news/story.aspx?id=984218


Got a Drone? Learn the Laws Before You Take Flight

Got a Drone? Learn the Laws Before You Take Flight

Got a drone? You better know the rules fly your drone or you could end up violating FAA regulations. HowStuffWorks breaks them all down for you.

More to Explore