Drones

Handheld Black Hornet Nano drones issued to U.K. soldiers

Handheld Black Hornet Nano dro...
British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued palm-sized Black Hornet Nano UAVs to scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers [Image: © Crown copyright]
British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued palm-sized Black Hornet Nano UAVs to scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers [Image: © Crown copyright]
View 6 Images
An operator can also use the control unit to pilot the drone directly or input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own [Image: © Crown copyright]
1/6
An operator can also use the control unit to pilot the drone directly or input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own [Image: © Crown copyright]
Each UAV measures just 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm by 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 16 grams (0.6 oz.) [Image: © Crown copyright]
2/6
Each UAV measures just 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm by 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 16 grams (0.6 oz.) [Image: © Crown copyright]
The British military first put the little drone to use in Afghanistan in 2012, following a £20m contract with Marlborough Communications Ltd. to supply 160 of them to troops in the area [Image: © Crown copyright]
3/6
The British military first put the little drone to use in Afghanistan in 2012, following a £20m contract with Marlborough Communications Ltd. to supply 160 of them to troops in the area [Image: © Crown copyright]
British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued palm-sized Black Hornet Nano UAVs to scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers [Image: © Crown copyright]
4/6
British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued palm-sized Black Hornet Nano UAVs to scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers [Image: © Crown copyright]
On a full charge, the tiny UAV can fly up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 22mph (35kph) [Image: © Crown copyright]
5/6
On a full charge, the tiny UAV can fly up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 22mph (35kph) [Image: © Crown copyright]
A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to 800 meters (about half a mile) [Image: © Crown copyright]
6/6
A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to 800 meters (about half a mile) [Image: © Crown copyright]
View gallery - 6 images

Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That's why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers.

Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters).

The Black Hornet Nano flies like a mini helicopter, but is stable enough to withstand harsh conditions and heavy wind. On a full charge, the tiny UAV can fly up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 22 mph (35 km/h), giving soldiers on the ground ample time to quickly survey an area. An operator can also use the control unit to pilot the drone directly or input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own.

Each UAV measures just 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm by 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 16 grams (0.6 oz.) [Image: © Crown copyright]
Each UAV measures just 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm by 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 16 grams (0.6 oz.) [Image: © Crown copyright]

Prox Dynamics AS, based in Norway, developed the Black Hornet Nano as a smaller follow-up to its previous PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, which was originally designed for search and rescue tasks. The British military first put the little drone to use in Afghanistan in 2012, following a £20m contract with Marlborough Communications Ltd. to supply 160 of them to troops in the area.

So far, the military has already stated the Black Hornet Nano has been a helpful tool for spotting enemy shooters and explosive traps in the field. The British Ministry of Defence has also noted that this is one of many new innovative gadgets planned for the coming years.

Source: Ministry of Defence via BBC

View gallery - 6 images
21 comments
JPAR
I can see how extremely helpful these will be, but £125,000 per copter?? Are you sure? About $100 each I would have thought, and maybe another $100 for the controller.
What code / protection system is built in to prevent enemy troops snatching your copter and then using it to Monitor your position?
tampa florida
JPAR "I can see how extremely helpful these will be, but £125,000 per copter?? Are you sure? About $100 each I would have thought, and maybe another $100 for the controller."
and I thought only the US military screwed it's tax payers
BigGoofyGuy
Considering all that the little copter is cabable of doing, the price does not seem to bad. I doubt one can do what it does with one of those little copters that one sees being sold on television.
If it saves lives, I think the cost is well worth it.
Joel Detrow
The price may seem a bit steep, but keep in mind that not only have they packed quite a bit of electronics into that small package, but also an electric motor and a battery pack capable of running it all for a whole 30 minutes. A $100 RC helicopter with no fancy bells or whistles (like recording & transmitting video) will get maybe 10 minutes.
Todd Dunning
JPAR - "What code / protection system is built in to prevent enemy troops snatching your copter and then using it to Monitor your position?"
Fortunately that's a secret.
krakkah
How do they recharge in the field?
How do they "party in the chowper" ?
How noisy is it?
Does it self destruct if it crashes?
GiolliJoker
UK enemies will start packing 12 ga bird shot shells...
Philip Porter
Can't see any doors, how does the pilot get in and out?
bergamot69
@JPAR,
The signal would no doubt be encrypted, and no doubt, if the drone was seized by the enemy, the operator would be instantly aware of that. And in order for the enemy to use it to their own ends, they would need a controller with display- not the sort of thing they are likely to have any time soon.
Does seem extremely expensive though- although worth it to save lives.
Phyvel Lavine
What do you get for $100? 1) A copter which can only be controlled to maybe 100 meters away, or as far as an ad-hoc wifi signal can transmit. 2) Low quality video, if any video at all. 3) 10 minutes battery.
This next part is based of the development contract price and reports. It is not the actual price of each individual kit. But since, from the comments, it looks like nobody understands what a development contract is *not*, I'll go from what you think it *is*.
What do you get for £125,000? 1) A copter which uses a secure (DDL) network, capable of transmitting over 800 meters 2) GPS navigation 3) High quality, stabilized, pan-tilt, and mechanically zoomed video 4) 30 minutes battery 5) Carbon-fiber propellers 6) Super-quiet operation 7) Waterproof 8) Hover and stare, preprogrammed search routes 9) Base Station • Mission Planning, Execution and Analyses • Display connections, Functions and System Controls • Storage of Mission Data including Video and Images • Connections to PC, Network and other Peripherals • UAVs housed inside for Protection and Support