Sure, flying insects are annoying, but they have one huge advantage over humans: the gift of enhanced mobility. Insects are small and nimble enough to get into almost any tight space, so it makes sense to create a similarly sized drone for stealth military missions.
Clocking in at a tiny eight-inches long and 2.1 ounces light, the PD-100 Black Hornet, was previously a mere prototype back in 2009, developed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics AS. It has already been put to work by British infantrymen in Afghanistan, scouting possible routes for enemy ambushes or secretively flying over enemy compound walls for a look inside. The pocket-sized drones, which were unveiled at the Association of the U.S. Army Expo for the first time last week, are meant for a soldier's personal use, not unlike a walkie talkie, and is similarly easy to operate.
Using GPS waypoints to a designated target, the Black Hornet can fly a full 20-25 minutes before needing to recharge, meaning the drone can travel nearly 4,000 feet in one go. Images and camera feed are sent to a seven-inch wide mobile device supplied in the PD 100 kit, which also includes a docking recharging station and a remote controller. The drone is pretty near invisible at 30 feet high, making it perfect for quick bouts of stealth surveillance.
Since the Black Hornet isn't equipped with infrared abilities, it's most suited for full daytime reconnaissance missions. The U.S. Army has purchased two Black Hornets, most likely for testing, while the British military already has 324 of the tiny spies waiting in the wings. In the meantime, Prox Dynamics AS is currently working on adding additional sensors and tweaking the drone for the ultimate stealth insect.
Now I just need to get a hold of one to spy on my teenage sister when she sneaks out of the house!