Far beyond uses in a theater of war to provide intelligence and observe troop movements, surveillance drones are being manufactured and marketed to police and security officials, businesses, media organizations and hobbyists, for security, commercial, recreational and artistic applications. While there continues to be controversy over their domestic use, unmanned aerial drones are becoming more prevalent -- and, as the technology develops, increasingly smaller.
Left: the Draganflyer X4P is a remote-controlled aerial platform for video or still cameras. Height: 12 1/2 inches. Width: 34 1/4 inches.
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan
For military applications, AeroVironment's RQ-11B Raven can provide aerial observation (including infrared cameras) from up to 10 kilometers It is hand-launched, weighing less than five pounds, and has a wingspan of 4.5 feet.
The Raven is in the class of Air Force "man-portable" unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
A two-man team can launch and remotely operate the Raven.
The Puma All-Environment UAS was designed for both land and maritime use. It has a wingspan of 9.2 ft, is 4.6 feet long, and weighs 13 lbs.
It can fly for two hours at speeds up to 51 miles per hour, at altitudes up to 500 feet.
AeroVironment's Qube is a drone aimed at first responders. The kit, which can be packed into the trunk of a car, can be assembled and launched in less than five minutes, transmitting live video back to a base operator.
The drone is being marketed toward police and fire departments, and can also be used for inspection of infrastructure (such as pipelines, dams, transmission towers and ports), wildfire management and scientific research.
The Shrike is a Vertical Take-Off and Land Micro Air Vehicle (VTOL Mav) system, designed for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. Weighing 5.5 lbs., it offers what the manufacturere calls an "unobtrusive visual and acoustic signature."
The Draganflyer X4-P can carry still and video cameras or thermal imaging sensors. It also comes in red, yellow or black.
The Draganflyer X4-P's booms, motor pods, landing gear and props are made of carbon fiber materials, engineered and molded to exacting specifications to reduce weight.
The Draganflyer X4-P, collapsed.
Aerial image taken by a Draganflyer X-6 drone.
The German manufacturer Microdrones offers the MD4-1000, a rotary-winged VTOL Mini-UAS craft.
It has a span of 40 inches, weighs 12 pounds with payload, and can be used with video or sensor equipment for industrial, scientific and media purposes.
The result of a joint development project with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Wasp is the smallest UAS produced by AeroVironment. Weighing less than one pound, it has a wingspan of just over two feet, is 1.25 feet long, and can fly at altitudes of up to 1,000 feet. A version capable of landing on water is being developed.
Dragan's Tango can fly up to 60 miles to capture professional-quality video.
Although the Tango is remotely-operated, it also includes thermal sensors and circuitry that can detect if it is too close to the ground, allowing it to automatically avoid a possible crash.
The tandem wings of the Tango offer increased stabilization for professional-quality video.
An aerial image taken by a Tango UAS.
AeroVironment's GO (Global Observer) craft are much larger, with a wingspan of 175 feet and 70 feet long. They are designed to operate in the stratosphere, at altitudes up to 65,000 feet. Powered by liquid hydrogen, the GO UAS is advertised as being able to stay airborne between 5-7 days.
AeroVironment received a $120 million contract from U.S. Special Operations Command for development of the GO-1 as a quasi-satellite system, capable of relaying signals between units in the mountains of Afghanistan.
From stratospheric capability to "nano" technology: DARPA is sponsoring research in a new class of surveillance craft that mimics biology. The challenge: a two-wing flapping aircraft capable of controlled, precision hovering and fast-forward flight, like a hummingbird. Unlike a real bird, AeroVironment's Nano Hummingbird also carries a video camera.
The hand-made prototype has a wingspan of 6.5 inches, and has a total flying weight of 2/3 ounce -- less than the weight of an AA battery.
A multiple-exposure image shows a demonstration flight of the Nano Hummingbird.
Aurora Flight Sciences' GoldenEye 50 is a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS for tactical deployment, designed for surveillance and chemical agent detection.
GoldenEye 50 stands less than 2 1/2 feet tall, has a wingspan of about five feet, and a gross takeoff weight of 22 lbs. It can cruise up to 1 hour, with a maximum speed of 175 mph.
Insitu's ScanEagle system can reach altitudes of 19,500 feet, with maximum horizontal speed of 80 knots.
Left: Insitu representative Tim Hall is pictured with the ScanEagle, which was operated as part of the U.S. Marines' Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 38 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, Aug. 17, 2006.
Insitu's ScanEagle is launched via catapult, and can stay aloft for 24 hours. It weighs approximately 40 pounds and has a 10-foot wingspan.
The ScanEagle UAS is outfitted with a variety of imaging systems, including infrared, to provide real-time video surveillance.
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator taxies on the flight deck of the USS Harry S. Truman, Dec. 9, 2012. Humans coax it into position for a catapult launch, but after that, it's flown entirely by computer. Right now this sleek test plane is loaded only with instruments, but that could change once the Navy proves the X-47B can land and take off from a carrier at sea.
"That'll give you options to say, 'OK, maybe we should look at putting ordnance on it as well,'" Vice Admiral Mark Fox told CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin.
The Fire Scout unmanned helicopter drone is currently flying surveillance missions in the war zone in Afghanistan. Its camera can send live television pictures of enemy positions to an operator 100 miles away.
AAI-Textron's Shadow has a wingspan of 20.4 feet, is just under 12 feet long and weighs 460 lbs. Military applications include detecting, recognizing and identifying moving and stationary vehicles, and providing a laser designator for laser-guided weapons.