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What is the difference between the Military Drones used in Afghanistan and the Drones we are reading about that are flying over the U.S.?
There is a wide assortment of Drones flying over the U.S. Some of them are flown by federal agencies (military type) and they are of undisclosed (or secret) varieties. Some are flown by local police departments and they are usually surveillance drones. Others are hobby drones, which are available in several types and sizes. Then, there is an endless list of drones under development. This last group is a wide and varied group that includes everything from large multinational corporations developing surveillance aircraft for homeland security, to individuals working in their garage to develop cargo drones.
Three branches of the U.S. government are known to currently fly drone aircraft over the U.S. They are the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Contrary to popular belief these agencies are flying full sized drones, like the Reaper.  These drones use advanced image technology to map entire cities.

Police departments in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, and Texas are using drones for surveillance. The Washington State Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service, as well as many universities are all using drones.  These drones are typically smaller than the military types. They are used for a wide array of monitoring and testing.

The hobby drones are (in many cases) modified radio controlled aircraft. These craft can be bought online or at your local mall.  They weigh anywhere from one to sixteen pounds. They cost anywhere from $300 to $10,000. They are typically multi-blade rotor, or helicopter type.  They come with automated stabilization systems that make them very easy to fly, even by the most novice of flyer.

FedEx expects to someday fly cargo coast to coast and internationally with cargo drones.  For this mission, new drones will have to be designed, built and tested. Many of the large companies currently producing military drones are working on cargo drones. Many more small groups and individuals are working out of their garages (all across the U.S.) to develop these and other types of drones. This type of grass roots effort is what turns a small ember into a raging forest fire. It’s what turns a curious idea into a phenomenon.  Drones over the U.S. will someday be as ubiquitous as cell phones.

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