The fierce debate over the use of drones has divided Washington in recent weeks.
The U.S. military has used drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as they are officially known, to target enemies abroad, but the strikes have stirred controversy because they can unintentionally hit civilian targets and have killed Americans overseas.
Drone use in America has also proven to be controversial. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had to assure reporters last week that President Obama doesn’t believe he has the authority to order drone strikes on U.S. citizens on American soil after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) used a 13-hour filibuster to criticize Obama’s drone policy.
Despite this debate, there’s money to be made in manufacturing drones. The U.S. military spent about $3 billion on drone programs last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. And as government spending cuts threaten to pinch some of that money, defense contractors are looking for ways to expand the drone market to law enforcement agencies, universities and border patrols.
Some drone companies are even trying to manufacture the devices for filmmakers to be used to take aerial photos. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to approve drones for commercial use in 2015, according to Quartz, clearing the way for them to fly in our friendly skies.
Here are some of the major companies that are making money off the controversial technology: