A personal drone, also known as a hobby or consumer drone, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for the mass market.
In the past, UAVs have most often been associated with the military. However, recent technological advances have led to an increasing number of applications for drones in other industries as well as the consumer market. Drones are used in a wide variety of endeavors including search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, geographical mapping, agriculture and firefighting.
Besides the simple entertainment factor of remote-controlled vehicles, personal drones have in the past most often been used for still and video photography -- the devices can achieve vantage points that are difficult or impossible to access otherwise. Potential applications for personal drones include home security, child monitoring and the creation of virtual tours, among a great number of other possibilities. Programmable drones are expected to create a further market for specialized mobile apps.
Drones are essentially flying robots. Their naturalization into the environment -- sometimes referred to as ubiquitous robotics -- is enabled by the combination of networking, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Airspace is currently defined according to flight levels, and the level that drones fly at is mainly unregulated. Regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are working on legislation to control the personal and business use of drones.
See a Phantom V2 drone's flight over San Francisco: