In its latest round of grants under the National Robotics Initiative, the agency is funding projects that could have bigger rewards down the road.
In some parts of the world, drones overhead can send people diving for cover. But in Australia, drones may soon be delivering books and other reading materials across the continent.
EMC, IBM offer robots that rove data centers in search of temperature anomalies and other indicators of how well the center is maintaining an efficient power curve.
The semi-autonomous Wave Gliders, which have performed well in rough conditions for NOAA, show potential for Guard duty.
The agency is selecting sites for UAV tests that could eventually open up the airways, but for now there are two paths to getting authorization for unmanned flights.
Sense-and-avoid technologies are close to ensuring safe UAV flights on a large scale. It's mostly a matter of time, standards and FAA rules.