(A snapshot from the BU inforgraphic)Flying unmanned drones to scan crime scenes, portable detectors that sniff out clandestine graves, and the FBI’s billion dollar Next-Gen identification system.

These new forensic techniques might seem like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but their development is currently in the works, and according to new research, might be available to forensics scientists sooner than we think.

Researchers from Boston University looked back at the history of forensic science, and peered into the law-enforcement crystal ball to determine what new technologies might revolutionize the future of the industry.

Portable electronic systems for finding clandestine graves will help locate buried remains in the coming decades, researchers say. Just like handheld metal detectors, these new systems have been able to locate graves to within 50 feet in a 40-acre complex, according to reports. One such system was licensed by the DOE in 2012, and was tested in part with the help from the University of Tennessee – the location of the nation’s most prominent body farm.

“It might sound like something from the crime scene of the future, but the technology does exist,” Keith Inman, associate professor at California State University, East Bay, told Forensic Magazine in an exclusive interview. Inman, who was not part of the BU research, presented “Crime Scene Science — What Will the Future Look Like?” to The Royal Society, London last year.

According to the BU researchers, unmanned flying drones will be widespread by the year 2025. Currently, only a handful of state and local law enforcement agencies are using drones around the country.

“We would just need to modify existing technology,” Inman said, “like taking a whole bunch of sensors and putting them on small drones to map and display almost a virtual crime scene.”

In 2013, former FBI director Robert Mueller testified before the Senate that his agency owned and operated drones for surveillance purposes—they also allegedly fly small aircraft on surveillance mission, as well.

Take a look at the BU infographic below:

Boston University’s Master of Criminal Justice Online Program