individual soldier drones

Army wants to equip soldiers with drones

The Army wants equip individual soldiers with drones to give them greater tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in the field.   

The Soldier Borne Sensors (SBS) are expected to weigh 150 grams and fly for 15 minutes, providing real-time video and telemetry data in day and night conditions, according to a recent request for information.  The micro-drone, moreover, should have an operation radius of 500 meters within line of sight, a day range of 100 meters, a night range of 50 meters and operate in wind speeds up to 10 knots. 

Operators should be able to launch and recover the device by hand without exposing their position -- a feature aimed at maintaining a tactical ISR edge on the battlefield.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency examined a similar concept for squad-level ISR.  DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy program is developing small autonomous devices that can operate in tight spaces such as buildings and even stairwells, mimicking the rapid and sporadic flight of an insect or bird.  During recent demonstrations, a test aircraft achieved flight speeds of 45 mph. 

The Army will hold a virtual industry day on April 12, which will provide a forum for innovators to hear more about the SBS program.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.


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