U.S. Army wants soldiers to have pocket drones by 2018

The U.S. Army has been looking into technology referred to as "soldier-borne sensors" that are essentially miniature pocket-sized drones intended for individual soldiers to carry. Some allied troops have already been using such technologies, and now the U.S. Army is ready to get on board; it has set a goal for 2018, at which point it wants its own troops to be equipped with such tiny flying devices.

Unknown landscapes in hostile areas are exceedingly dangerous, and while larger drones can and have been used by the military to surveil an area, they're not available for small impromptu moments when a soldier needs a bit of situational clarity. When you come to a hill on a lonely road, for example, having a tiny drone to give you a glimpse of the other side could be life-saving.

Thus enters the soldier-borne sensors, tiny aerial systems that can be deployed quickly and carried easily. An example of this technology is the PD-100 Black Hornet drone, which has been used by Norwegian and British forces for the past few years. The U.S. Army is interested in such technology, but does not want to use this particular model — every Black Hornet is made by hand, and that makes them quite expensive.

As expected, the Army has a bunch of requirements for the drones, aside from being more affordable. They can't weigh more than 150 grams, for example, and they'll need to fit inside of a pocket on the a soldier's cargo pants. The battery will have to sustain 15 minutes of flight time, and the drone itself needs to go from pocket to flight within 60 seconds. Despite its small size, it'll have to withstand wind speeds of 10 to 15 knots, and it'll need to be operational at ranges up to 1200 meters.

SOURCE: Army Times