Until a few decades, artificial intelligence may have seemed like something straight from a science fiction novel. But this is a field that has been explored by industrial and military developers for many years, with researchers producing ever more sophisticated examples of unmanned equipment that actually make a lot of the hardware in those space movies look clunky. So what are some of the latest developments in this area?

Commercial drones

The use of drones for non-military purposes continues to expand, given their enormous potential to carry out hazardous tasks in a diverse range of industries. Although much of the deployment is still at an exploratory stage, it is estimated that civil governments and businesses will spend upwards of $13 billion dollars on drone technology over the next three years.
Agriculture represents a potentially vast market where there are obvious benefits for being able to gather data over wide areas, analyzing this with the appropriate software. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can make thousands of flights over large sectors of the prairie.

 
Recently New York Power Authority used a drone to inspect an ice boom (Breakwater) near Lake Erie, a task that would normally have involved sending a helicopter or boat, costing around $3,500. The UAV completed the task for $300.
Military drones

Warfare is a costly business: although the true figure is difficult to quantify, by the time the ink had dried on the Japanese surrender in 1945 the total financial cost of World War Two had spiraled to over $1 trillion. Defense spending still accounts for a huge portion of national budgets, and as technology advances, much of the funding is being channeled into increasingly sophisticated areas such as UAV technology.
Since they were first adopted as surrogate bombers by the US military to target hostile positions without risking pilots, the use of unmanned devices has expanded. Over 50 different types of UAVs have been deployed by at least 11 countries.

China has been deploying a fleet of robotic submarines to track potential enemy incursions into the South China Seas – an area of international territory that the American military is also monitoring, given the US army and navy personnel stationed here.

Entitled ‘Haiya’, translating as sea wings, the latest generation of Chinese submersibles is far more robust than anything previously launched. Haiya can relay data back to servers in real time, a feat the US Navy has yet to achieve. They have also broken the world diving record for undersea robots, with one recorded as having reached a depth of 6.4 kilometers. Energy-efficient, a combination of a unique coating designed to resist tremendous water pressures and state-of-the-art battery systems ensure the drones can travel for up to 30 months without stopping.

Weekend flyers

Although the cost of an individual license is presently still prohibitive enough to prevent more widespread usage (around £3,000 or $4,490) there is no sign of this latest technological device becoming yesterday’s fad. The combination of an advanced camera lens and angles previously completely unavailable to the amateur photographer create an irresistible piece of kit capable of producing results that would have been impossible a relatively short time ago.

Drone markets

UAVs are coming down in price all the time, with decent enough models being available for well under £1,000. Technology developments and changes in regulation mean this is an area that is growing all the time, bringing exciting possibilities. You don’t need to be overly interested in technical markets to appreciate the potential for investment. If you are already looking into a premium affiliate network that focuses on gadgetry, there is a likelihood that drones are going to feature more and more. These devices may seem like toys for grown-ups but as well as being a terrific marketing opportunity the social side is growing. Affiliate marketing often works with a variety of partners, such as Flirt.com. Technology and social networking seem an irresistible combination that investors should have their eye on.

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