The future is going to be dominated by drones. There'll be drones delivering your pharmacy prescriptions, bringing you pizza, drones to survey wind turbines, drones to observe the ocean and drones for cinematographers. Wildlife conservationists in Africa will utilize drones to look for rhino poachers; oil companies, in Alaska, will utilize them to locate new locations for drilling.

However, not all drones will be created equal. Here include the 5 drone companies to look out for:

The Solara 50: Titan Aerospace

Recently, Google bought Titan Aerospace, an organization which is working on building lightweight, high-altitude Wi-Fi drones. The concept includes bringing the Web to far-away places worldwide utilizing aerial vehicles--a less expensive alternative to building out on-the-ground telecommunications infrastructures.

Titan Solara 50--their futuristic fixed-wing drone which Google is going to utilize to accomplish this goal--isn't your regular model aircraft. Firstly, its wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 767's. Also, it is powered using the sun, and may fly almost twelve miles above ground. Ascenta, its main competition, recently was scooped up by Facebook.

Hummingbird Nano: AeroVironment

Unlike Ascenta and Titan, which made massive drones, a few manufacturers took their innovation within the opposite direction and came up with pocket-sized drones.

For example, AeroVironment created the Nano Hummingbird, a hummingbird-shape drone meant for urban surveillance. It was created in partnership with DARPA, the development and research department the United States Department of Defense, and has some impressive statistics. It has the ability to silently hover for more than 8 minutes and will weigh less than an AA battery. Also, it flies through windows and relays a live video feed to receptors miles away.

According to DARPA's director, Jay Schnitzer, The Hummingbird's creation is in keeping with a lengthy DARPA tradition of technical advances and innovation for national defense supporting the agency's only mission--to create and prevent strategic surprise.

Black Hornet Nano: Prox Dynamics

An additional government-funded drone business creating surveillance drones is Prox Dynamics, an organization based in Norway well-known for the Black Hornet Nano, a palm-size, silent drone--even tinier than Hummingbird Nano.

Black Hornet is more than 4" in length that has a 4" rotor span, and is priced at around $195,000. It is powered by a tiny battery, enabling it to fly for around 25 minutes. According to a soldier with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force inside Afghanistan, Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge, they used it to search for insurgent firing points and to check out exposed regions of the ground prior to crossing-- a real asset. He added that it's simple to operate and provides incredible ability to the men on the ground.

In October of 2013, the organization was awarded a multi-million-dollar contractual agreement by the United States Army to supply the soldiers with these pocket-sized devices.

eBee: senseFly

Not every drone is used for military or surveillance purposes. The Swiss drone business is creating a fresh concept drone to conduct some of the best quality aerial imaging the globe has ever laid eyes on. According to the firm, the eBee possesses a flight time of around 50 minutes and allows it to cover regions of around 10 sq. km in one flight. With its 16-megapixel, ultra-high-res camera, it may shoot aerial imagery that has a precision of 5cm.

The eBee is helpful for surveying big swaths of land, yet there also is a possible humanitarian purpose. Recently, senseFly's UAVs were chosen by Geneva Int'l Center for Humanitarian Demining in order to potentially assist in finding active land mines inside conflict zones.

Game of Drones / Ballistic UAV, Inc.

This is the world's toughest drone and toughest multi-rotor airframe and Founder Space accelerator (note which I am an adviser for) graduate. It is water resistant, crash proof, and ruggedized. It will work with all flight boards and major electronics. It is designed from most solid aircraft ballistic grade materials utilized in aerospace and military sectors.

Their rugged, small UAV technology is the perfect standard issue gear for First Responders. The drone is simple for anyone to fly, resilient enough to take on the abuse of active duty, as well as affordable enough to be considered disposable. It makes their UAVs the perfect airborne tool for every disaster relief assessment activity and need. Their portable turnkey package provides RTF (ready to fly) UAVs, as well as ground stations solution right out of the box.

Bluefin 21: Bluefin Robotics

There also are companies creating drones which are not for the skies, whatsoever. An autonomous drone recently was sent underwater in order to start its search for the missing Malaysian jet. It was constructed by a tech company well-known for its seaworthy products, Bluefin Robotics. Referred to Bluefin 21, it is a deep-water, air-shippable AUV."

This underwater drone has the ability to travel down to depths of 4,500m and may last around 25 hours prior to refueling. The drone itself is a little over 16' in length, and has a weight of approximately 1,650 lbs.

It uses sonar in order to scan the oceanic floor, and will turn that information into imagery. As the drone resurfaces, scientists review the images.

Published on: Feb 12, 2015