By: Mike Montgomery (originally posted on Forbes)
Movie fans recently celebrated the date that Marty McFly and Emmett “Doc” Brown visit in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II. While Back to the Future fans (and Peter Thiel) are still waiting for flying cars, the movie was on target about the proliferation of drones.
Drones are everywhere in the news. Amazon is testing Prime Air, a service that would use small drones to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes. Walmart petitioned the FAA for permission to test drones for home delivery and pickup. Facebook’s Connectivity Lab hopes to use drones equipped with lasers to beam Internet access around the planet. In 1989, these kinds of ideas were the stuff of science fiction.
But because drones have become so affordable (a commercial-grade drone can go for $1,500), there are also plenty of entrepreneurs using the technology. These smaller startups are building companies that will use drones to improve harvests, deliver medicines to disaster zones, find people trapped in burning buildings, protect animals from poachers and monitor expansive construction sites from anywhere in the world.