The US Navy has unveiled plans for a five year, 100 million dollar scheme to create unmanned helicopters capable of supporting troops in the battlefield. It’s just one aspect of a whole new range of autonomous aircraft that are set to fill our skies in the future. However, some would argue that there are perhaps too many flying machines up there already, with a proliferation of drones taking to the skies recently. Whether it’s conducting military strikes in Afghanistan or being called up by Facebook to produce a gloabl internet supply, these pilotless innovations are on the increase. Even Amazon wants to use drones for deliveries.
However, the framework for how these small, unmanned robot aircraft can be used isn’t at all clear: both the US and UK authorities are expected to issue new legal guidelines in the near future that set down exactly what you can and can’t do with a drone. For now though, a growing number of organisations and entrepreneurs are putting these drones to good use — from mapping the effects of deforestation to bringing essential medical supplies to the neediest parts of the world, we’ve collected together some of the most innovative drone models and schemes currently in operation.