TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Drones are quickly becoming an essential tool for more law enforcement agencies.

But the new technology still has obstacles to overcome. They have a limited battery life, and federal regulations also restrict how far drones can go.

They are being deployed to find lost children, patrol beaches for sharks and scan neighborhoods for survivors in hurricane zones.

The Center for the Study of the Drone at New York's Bard College finds that the number of law enforcement agencies with drones doubled last year.

Almost half were in places with less than 50,000 people, bringing air surveillance to police and sheriff's departments with limited budgets.

Police say their greatest appeal is cost. A drone with an infrared camera can be had for less than $20,000.

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