Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) have been developed alongside manned aircraft yet have seen widespread use only in the past decade. Their use for miliraty applications has propelled advances in electronics and sensors to yield systems whose capabilities may be useful for many civilian applications. The needs of users in the fire science and wildfire surveillance community for high-resolution sensors and geospatially accurate data demand capabilities found in large, sophisticated platforms, but at sizes better suited for field deployment. An overview of the current USA marker reveals few options for combining sensor sophistication and small size. Furthermore, current regulations restrict UAS use for peacetime applications. Technological development and regulatory reforms are expected to allow civilian use of UAS in the coming years. Predictions for the future application of this technology for fire-related uses are provided, based on perceived technology needs of the field and capabilities fo UAS currently under development. Suggestions are offered to potential users to evaluate UAS technology for their own applications as it becomes available. © 2010, Tall Timbers Research, Inc.