Southwark. Spit. I was still only in Southwark. The ceiling fan's remorseless pulse blurs into the sound of helicopter blades, and for a moment, we're back in the war... well, actually, just watching video from a tiny remote-control helicopter. It's the PD-100 Black Hornet, the smallest video camera-equipped helicopter in the world.
Weighing just 15g, the minuscule chopper has rotor blades that measure a tiddly 10cm. It will hit 20mph in silence, however, plus it can hover and is piloted from the ground with a controller including an LCD screen. As well as displaying, recording and playing back images from its cameras, the screen can show flight-status data and maps for mission planning.
Manufacturer Proxdynamics reckons you can carry it in your back pocket -- obviously haven't seen how snug our jeans are -- and can be in the air in less than a minute. It's designed for reconnoitring hostile or contaminated areas by soldiers or rescue services.
The package, available in 2010, will contain no less than three Black Hornets, a controller and a transport box with a charger. Sadly, you won't be able to buy one, as it won't be available to the public. You'll just have to make do with one of the mini-helicopters available from Firebox, such as the Black Ghost or super-cool Airwolf replica, with a mini camcorder taped to the bottom. Playing Ride of the Valkyries really quietly is optional.