10 Non-murderous Things Drones Do Every Day

Airborne Cops
A police supervisory drone flying during a drill in Celle, Germany in August 2011. © Peter Steffen/dpa/Corbis

Let the paranoia begin in earnest. As if ubiquitous surveillance cameras weren't enough, now digital cameras will be mounted to drones that tirelessly scour the skies around our cities, all in the name of maintaining law and order.

Police forces must apply for the proper permits or warrants before deploying drones to watch citizens, and some have already done so. They're used to monitor areas for illegal drug transactions, conduct chases, or even help with crime scene reconstruction.

Police can put drones to work on search-and-rescue missions or to perform routine security sweeps at large, crowded events. Some manufacturers are exploring the idea of taking drones a step further, arming them with tear gas and other crowd control measures.

Most forces haven't put drones to large-scale use just yet, though, in large part due to privacy concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union, in particular, is very outspoken against the use of drones en masse without any sorts of real regulations in place.

You can expect the hubbub over police drones to escalate in the next few years, as departments look to increase efficiency while cutting costs.