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Drones aren't just for the military anymore

Monday - 4/16/2012, 6:00am  ET

drones.jpg
In this March, 28, 2012, photo, Mark Harrison, right, and Andreas Oesterer, left, prepare their drones for a flight over a waterfront park in Berkeley, Calif. Interest in the domestic use of drones is surging among public agencies and private citizens alike, including a thriving subculture of amateur hobbyists, even as the prospect of countless tiny but powerful eyes circling in the skies raises serious privacy concerns. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

WASHINGTON - The civilian market for military drones appears to be taking off.

The high tech toys are 3-feet to 6-feet wide and can be flown and guided by radio controls, computers and even smartphones.

According the Wall Street Journal, Jason Short, a product designer for San Francisco company Smart Design who makes the "toys" says he's made about a dozen of the machines ranging from $150 to $1,000 each. The drones can be sent into the air to take photos. The main constraints are the 400-foot ceiling set by the Federal Aviation Administration and battery life.

Demand is quickly increasing for the drones, raising questions about whether this kind of technology should be in the hands of hobbyists.

But the drones remain legal. Additionally, the FAA says it plans to allow commercial and business use of the drones in coming years.

WTOP's Del Walters contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)