The days of the drones are upon us — whether we like it or not.
Most of the time, we hear about US agencies using them to kill people in Yemen and Pakistan, or to track them along the border of Mexico.
Public opinion is mixed. Some Americans support using drones to kill or spy on "suspected" terrorists abroad. But such support plunges when they're are used for domestic spying.
But what about all the other things drones could do? This new video of drones playing music is pretty cool, and it got us thinking:
1. Waiting tables
This is already a reality at YO! Sushi in London, where a small drone outfited with a flat tray ferries food in and out of the kitchen to customers.
Most customers seem to love it, and it's really quite cute.
At a brisk 25 mph, it's also a lot quicker than your average human waiter.
2. Delivering beer
Ah, if only this had taken off.
A small brewery in Wisconsin began testing beer delivery by drone earlier this year to rave reviews among ice fishermen on remote lakes.
But once the Federal Aviation Administration caught wind of it, Lakemaid Brewery's drone days were over — for now at least.
The FAA is working on a comprehensive set of rules and regulations to pave the way for commercial drone flights, but the legislation won't be ready until at least 2015.
3. Showing homes
Got a huge McMansion to sell?
Drones are helping real estate agents in the San Francisco area market huge properties by producing aerial videos that can be posted online.
While pricey at $500 a video, agents said the resulting pageviews are worth it.
“You get the scale, you get the feeling of the actual home. You can see, ‘hey, this thing’s on an acre. This is what it looks like,’” Randy Churchill of Dudum Real Estate told KPIX.
4. Providing disaster relief
Drones could also be used to do the very noble work of delivering food and other relief in the wake of a natural disaster like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
German postal carrier Deutsche Post DHL began testing such a service late last year, and has deployed response teams to disasters like Haiyan to oversee distribution of incoming relief supplies. It's not a stretch to think that could be where we'd see the technology really take off first.
Drones could also deliver medications to remote areas and, of course, packages ordered online a la Amazon.
5. Battling wildfires
Fighting wildfires is expensive, not to mention deadly.
Drones are being touted as a cheaper, safer way to map fires and provide Internet service to the firefighters using smartphones and tablets below.
"We can get more information for less cost, and it doesn't put anyone in harm's way," Sher Schranz, a project manager at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who researches fire weather modeling, told CNN.
The unmanned vehicles were deployed to several large fires last year, including the massive complex of wildfires that charred large swaths of California's Yosemite National Park.
7. Playing music
A group called KMel Robotics recently got some hexrotor drones together to play a few tunes in advance of the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.
Among the ditties were “Carol of the Bells” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While some find it creepy, we think it's pretty cool.