12 Companies Cashing In On Drones

SIERRA VISTA, AZ - MARCH 07:  Maintenence personel check a Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), be
SIERRA VISTA, AZ - MARCH 07: Maintenence personel check a Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), before its surveillance flight near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The OAM, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flies the unmanned - and unarmed - MQ-9 Predator B aircraft an average of 12 hours per day at around 19,000 feet over southern Arizona. The drones, piloted from the ground, search for drug smugglers and immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States. Due to federal sequestration cuts, Customs and Border Protection is expected to lose $500 million from its budget, and OAM staff at Ft. Huachuca are now taking unpaid furlough days once every two weeks. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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:

12 Companies Cashing In On Drones