The U.S. Army Special Forces is experimenting with a new type of bug-like drone that’s useful in scoping out snipers ahead of advancing troops. It’s the smallest combat-ready robot ever manufactured.
Produced by a Norway company called Prox Dynamics, the PD-100 Black Hornet weighs just 18 grams and has the ability to carry both regular and thermal cameras, effectively acting as a pair of aerial binoculars, Defense One reports.
The drone isn’t consigned to the experimentation stage. Troops with the British Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Afghanistan have used the drone successfully for three years. According to Arne Skjaerpe, CEO and president of Prox Dynamics USA, the Black Hornet is proficient at surveying enemy compounds, as it is nearly silent during flight and looks like a miniature helicopter. It’s particularly useful in Afghanistan because it was designed to blend in with the surrounding muddy walls.
After being launched from a small box which can attach to a utility belt, the sensor can stay in the air for around 25 minutes, where it transmits data back to the box. No information is stored locally on the drone. In case the drone is captured by the enemy, they won’t have access to the any of the intelligence gathered.
In March, soldiers at Fort Benning experimented with 75 different prototypes to improve infantry combat with technology. Out of all the prototypes, the Black Hornet consistently came up as a top pick by troops.
“It’s an incredible piece of machinery,” Private First Class Logan Mims told Military.com. The PD-100 excels in urban areas because of its ability to hover and capture surveillance.
Now, U.S. Special Operations has confirmed that it’s looking closely at the device and stated that it will continue its research.
Each Black Hornet costs $40,000 dollars.