The scientific and technical advances achieved in recent years in the technology for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and the approval of new regulatory frameworks in several countries have allowed the commercial expansion and use of these flying robots for different civil applications, including agriculture. The present review discusses the opportunities for the use of the RPAS in area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) programmes within the current technical and legal constraints. These include targeted insecticide applications of hotspots in fruit fly and mosquito pest management programmes, aerial release of sterile males in mosquito and tsetse control programmes, and aerial release of parasitoids. The advantages of the RPAS technology - accuracy, increased safety and cost-efficiency for small and medium scale operations - are counterbalanced by its limitations at the technical level - reduced payload and flight duration - as well as at the regulatory level - mandatory special operational permits from regulatory agencies for operations beyond the visual line of sight.