The US Army has started testing palm-sized PD-100 Black Hornet drones, which feature regular and thermal cameras that can be used for surveillance operations.
Weighing only 18g, the drones are small enough to be carried on a utlilty belt , and can provide clear, real-time video feeds for up to 25 minutes.
Soldiers will be able to fly the drone using pre-selected points or controllers, similar to the ones used in video games.
The drones, developed by Norwegian unmanned drone maker Prox Dynamics, are already used by the British Army in Afghanistan.
Proxdynamics USA CEO and president Arne Skjaerpe said: “This is what they use when they check out enemy compounds.”
The company claims that the complete system is compact enough to fit into a pocket, and can be ready to fly within one minute.
The system features steerable EO cameras, which can be manoeuvred remotely to offer both live feed and snapshot images. It also offers digital data link beyond 1500m line-of-sight.
The drones can be used for search and rescue operation, reconnaissance missions in confined areas, birds-eye view for situational awareness, and proximity surveillance.
British Army Commanding officer Major Adam Foden as said: “Previously, we would have had to send soldiers forward to see if there were any enemy fighters hiding inside a set of buildings.
“Now we are deploying Black Hornet to look inside compounds and to clear a route through enemy-held spaces. It has worked very well, the pictures it delivers back to the monitor are really clear and Black Hornet is so small and quiet that the locals can’t see or hear it.”