VTOL quadcopter for “over the hill” observation and reconnaissance
By RBR Staff
August 06, 2012
Daily Mail (London): A new ‘nano-drone’ weighing just 7 ounces (198 grams), one of the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, has been devised in the UK and is currently being examined by the US military.
It fits in the palm of a hand and could become a potent new weapon…or new technology with a host of commercial possibilities.
Military chiefs believe the spy drone called the SQ-4 Recon, worth $39,000, and one of the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, will save soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan.
Weighing in at 7 ounces, the SQ-4 Recon is designed to cover a range of up to 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in less than 3 minutes and fly for 30 minutes.
It can be flown using a tablet computer, which also displays the video and stills transmitted by its high resolution day/night camera. Its small size coupled with its 6 ultrasonic sonars means that it can be used to penetrate a building or narrow spaces as well as avoid objects
The SQ-4 Recon is able to hover over a targeted area or ‘perch and stare’ using day or night vision. If the operator starts losing control or when the battery reaches 30 percent, it will automatically return to the launch point.
Devised by Cardiff-based BCB International and Middlesex University’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory, the SQ-4 Recon is being examined by the US military.
The ‘nano-drone’ contains two cameras which allow soldiers to look over hills and inside enemy bunkers without the risk of being killed or injured, the Daily Mail reported.
It can be operated remotely by troops sitting in a control room thousands of miles away or by soldiers on patrol using a seven-inch tablet computer.
Weighing just 7 ounces and with a nine-inch diameter, the nano-drone can fly and hover for 30 minutes or switch off its engines and perch like a bird on the ledge of a building, and, without being spotted, zoom in on suspicious activities. Its cameras can transmit live images or take still photos or video footage using day or night vision.
This means soldiers can carry out reconnaissance missions without putting themselves at risk of walking into an ambush or stepping on a buried bomb.
Andrew Howell, managing director of BCB International, said: “This gives the modern war fighter the ability to carry out reconnaissance tasks without putting themselves in harm’s way.”
“The video footage could give information on where the enemy is located, what they look like, how they are dressed and what weapons they have,” he said.
“Should things take a turn for the worse, no operators can be captured or killed. It also allows for more service personnel to be released for frontline duties,” Howell added.
The current drones deployed in Afghanistan are so large they have to be launched like conventional fixed-wing aircraft and make easy targets for Taliban marksmen.