For the past four months, the US Army Special Forces has been involved with testing Black Hornets, which are extremely lightweight drones used for reconnaissance. Compared to more conventional drones, Black Hornets are so small they can easily fit in a pocket.
Officially known as the Black Hornet PD-100, this drone is a micro unmanned aerial vehicle that is only 4×1-inches in size and weighs just 0.6 ounces. Although small, this drone is so well-designed it includes three cameras that offer both sill images and full-motion video.
Based on exact configuration, the cameras also have thermal imaging capability. In addition, these drones can remain in fight for up to 25 minutes for each flight. As part of the design, Prox Dynamics developed an extremely quiet drone capable of navigating in 20 mile per hour winds.
Although video is not stored within the drone, it can be watched live at the military base and then stored on an SSD drive. The reason for this design is that if the drone were downed in enemy territory, none of the reconnaissance captured can be viewed.
As far as control, the Black Hornet requires a human controller who uses a handheld device similar to something used in the gaming industry. Based on the exact type of mission, the drone can be controlled to hover in place but also pan and tile in order to get very detailed angles. For optimal convenience, a soldier with the US Army can attach a Black Hornet, controller, and base unit all in a single case to the uniform.
Inside the base unit is the display whereby a network connection to remote personal computers and peripherals is provided. In addition to this unit being used for planning important missions, it helps to analyze data and has a unique built-in GPS autopilot mode. Using this mode, the drone can be directed to operate without human control or go back to the base should the human operator lose control or in the event of a lost signal.
The Black Hornet on its own is exciting but considering there are limitless applications that can be used, this drone is extraordinary. Along with reconnaissance missions, the drone works incredibly well for search and rescue missions, to monitor large groups of people, and even for crowd control.
If wanted, the drone can also be specially fitted with chemical sensors used for inspections of chemical plants that have experienced an accident, for the installation of nuclear, and a variety of other situations in which humans could not safely get close enough.
Although a prior version of the Black Hornet was used for several years for reconnaissance during the war in Afghanistan, the design is now far more sophisticated. With neutral coloring, the Black Hornet is ideal for covert operations. This coupled with other drone capabilities to include looking around corners and over walls, it has become another critical line of defense used by the US Army.