By Pat Loeb

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Manayunk dry cleaner is attracting attention for using what he calls a “drone” to home-deliver customers’ clothes, sort of. The device flies a short distance so he drives it to the customer’s block to launch it.

It’s a gimmick but there are companies looking at real, civilian uses for drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration won’t even start issuing commercial licenses for drones until 2015 but research is already underway in a number of areas. NASA is sending drones into hurricanes for the second year, which accuweather meteorologist Joe Sobol says is providing more information for forecasters.

“Drones can go out and fly for up to 30 hours and send back continuous information as to what’s going on in the storm,” Sobol said.

Penn State is also testing drones for farming uses, such as precision application of pesticides and fertilizer. Mark O’Neill of the farm bureau says it’s intriguing.

“Farmers are always looking to use the latest in technology and the lates advances to be efficient,”
O’Neill says the question is would it be cost-effective.

The two drones approved for civilian use so far cost thousands of dollars.

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