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Drones could be the next major tech revolution to sweep the world, and these robotic flying machines are now being used for purposes that extend far beyond the secretive realm of the military.
Photographers have lofty dreams of using drones to capture stunning aerial views, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos nabbed headlines when he introduced the idea of using drones to deliver goods to online shoppers. But, over the course of the next decade, these types of drones (if they gain approval from the U.S. government) could make up only a portion of what some predict will become a multibillion-dollar global industry.
In the meantime, here are some surprising ways drones could be used around the world.
FarmingSlide 2 of 11
In Japan, helicopter-style drones designed by the Yamaha Motor Company have been reducing labor and operational costs on farms since the early 1990s. The radio-controlled RMAX drones are used to spray crops with fertilizers and pesticides, giving farmers a more affordable alternative to using traditional airplanes.
The unmanned flyers are efficient workers, and since they can hover low to the ground, the drones are able to carry out more precise work, company officials have said.
In recent years, Yamaha's RMAX drones have also been used on farms in South Korea and Australia.Slide 3 of 11
ArchaeologySlide 4 of 11
What would Indiana Jones think? A team of archaeologists uncovered structures thought to be from an ancient Native American village in New Mexico using drones equipped with heat-sensing cameras. The thermal images enabled the researchers to see beneath the desert floor, which helped them locate the buried structures.Slide 5 of 11
Humanitarian WorkSlide 6 of 11
Researchers at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology are developing drones that can deliver vaccines and other critical medical supplies to remote locations in the developing world. In January 2014, the project won a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Matternet Inc., a Silicon Valley-based tech firm, is working on a similar venture to design drones capable of transporting supplies to remote areas that are inaccessible by roads.Slide 7 of 11
Expanding Internet AccessSlide 8 of 11