Someday, the sight of drones in the sky -- used by police, firefighters and other agencies -- as well as private drones could be a common occurrence.
Much hoopla, fear and knee-jerk reactions follow the mention of drones in the Bay Area, but not all drones are the scary weapons used in the war on terror. Researchers at UC Berkeley are at this moment working on "good" drones, according to SF Weekly.
Drones might have provided the kind of surveillance that could have nabbed the suspected Boston Marathon bombers more quickly, according to Coye Cheshire, an associate professor at Berkeley's School of Information. That's partially why Cheshire is overseeing Berkeley's "inaugural drone lab," the newspaper reported.
A group of graduate students working under Cheshire are currently working to put together aerial unmanned surveillance robots "for a variety of reasons -- all good," the newspaper reported.
There's controversy, but "the benefits of flying robots" could help assuage fears and doubts. The drones could assist first responders, and otherwise provide a cheaper and quieter alternative to police surveillance helicopters.
There's application beyond law enforcement as well -- drones could photograph sporting events or map "untrodden" places like Mount Diablo.
Ultimately, the idea is to create useful household robots that can carry out tasks they are programmed to do -- and be so small that they can fold up into backpacks or otherwise be carried about.