Should We Be Scared or Excited About Drones? [INFOGRAPHIC]

It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, it’s a drone! If drones haven’t invaded our skies yet, that future probably isn’t far off. Already they’re redefining not just the the military, but conservation work. And, in the private sector, they may soon play a role in delivering books for Amazon or food supplies to populations without road access.

But should we be scared or excited? There are pros and cons.

In terms of their use by the U.S. military, drones can keep personnel out of harm’s way. Plus they are significantly less expensive than airplanes to purchase, fuel, and maintain. As another significant benefit, drones can strike with pinpoint accuracy even from long distances. Drones do have limitations as well. For example, no drone can capture surrendering military personnel, abandoned hardware or military bases. And, perhaps more critically, as drones reduce the risks and cost of airstrikes, the military may become overzealous. Already critics point to an increase in civilian deaths and other “collateral damage.” Furthermore, the ease at which an operator can become disconnected from the battleground may diminish ethical considerations. Some serious privacy issues also need to be considered. Senator Rand Paul believes that drone surveillance by the government poses a big risk to our privacy.

Drone use in the private sector, though not without its detractors, is less controversial. Can you imagine an Amazon Prime Air service that delivers packages in 30 minutes or less? Drones could deliver to the densest cities as well as communities without road access, to homes, apartment buildings, and farms, to offices and industrial parks.That future may be just around the corner. The basic technology already exists, and it may bring some environmental benefits. A single, battery-powered drone emits less air pollution than a delivery truck. The drone also wins out over driving to the store in your car. Still, there’s bound to be privacy issues when your average Joe can afford a drone.

In any case, drones will likely revolutionize delivery services. The FAA is developing regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. UPS and FedEx are both researching delivery drones.

Are you more excited or more nervous when it comes to drones? Please share in the comments, and be sure to check out the infographic to learn more about drones!

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