The drones are here. And there are probably more of them than you realized.

Here are a few of the most interesting and groundbreaking ways that drones are being used around the world. They provide new ways to see the world, getting to places we never could and providing a new perspective for all of us to look through.

Drones hold a lot of potential right now - do these examples give you any bright ideas?

Amazon's Prime Air: You've probably already heard of this, but it needs to make the list.

Amazon is hoping to use drones to drop packages off in just 30 minutes, and they've recently been given permission to start testing the drone delivery system in the UK. Their second prototype can fly for 10 miles at an altitude of 400 feet, and can carry packages of up to 5 pounds.


Farming and Agriculture: How do you keep an eye on thousands of acres of plants and animals? An eye in the sky is a great solution, giving farmers a way to see what's going on without needing people to actually go check it out.

Drones are good for finding new farmland, scouting out the best spots to plant, but they're also being used to take inventory of crops and keep track of failing plants. These systems can accomplish in hours what used to take days.


Architecture and Construction: Drones fitted with cameras and surveying tools are great for mapping out areas. They can be used to quickly survey a plot of land, potentially saving a lot of time and labor during real estate transactions.

Drones allow architects to showcase a building after completion, providing a bird's-eye view of even very tall buildings. Architects can now use drones to check out their finished creations, developing beautiful videos showcasing their achievements.

There's even an underwater version, a small aquatic robot that can scout out marine assets when conventional methods are unfeasible.


Photography: Drones outfitted with some great cameras can be used to take incredible aerial footage of animals, landscapes, natural wonders, and just about anything else.

They can also do things that photographers will never be able to (on purpose). Not only can they fly around and get into inaccessible nooks and crannies, since they're robots you can sacrifice them for the cause. Like diving straight into an active volcano for never-before seen shots.

Drones are also being used by the media, to cover large events in progress from a newsworthy perspective.


Animal Research and Wildlife Monitoring: Drones provide a new way to locate animals and monitor wildlife. They allow scientists and conservations to study animals in new ways, like getting closer in inaccessible areas or counting populations. You can use a drone to hover near an osprey nest high up on a pole that you'd otherwise never see (until they get fed up and smack it away, that is).

Drones are also being used to spy on poachers in Kenya and Nepal, recording them in the act. And they're fighting wildlife crime in other ways, like finding fishing vessels that are over their limits, without permits, or in restricted waters.


Cleaning Up the Environment: Not only are drones preventing wildlife crime, they're also used to clean up some of the messes we've left behind. I'm talking about some next-generation Roombas.

Take the Waste Shark, for example, a garbage-eating drone that's being used in Rotterdam to grab trash before it gets to the sea. They come in two version, dubbed “Slim” and “Fatboy,” and they both look pretty cute as they scoot through the water.


People are constantly coming up with novel ways to use drones. There are tons that weren't covered here, like FPV racing, fighting, or providing internet access.

Right now you can win big using drones with the $100,000 Land Survey Automation Challenge. You don't have to use drones, but Team AiLTA is looking for a way to expedite real estate and financing transactions, using an efficient property survey system.

Do you have what it takes? Check out the challenge page for more information, and to enter your name into the race!