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Japan unveils flying surveillance robot

Japan's military is working on a compact spy drone that can fly like a helicopter.

Japan's military is developing a robot that can hover in midair and conduct reconnaissance in dangerous areas, relaying information to personnel in real time.

The Ministry of Defense recently showed off the spy drone at a base in Kamifurano, Hokkaido, in northern Japan, according to NHK news (see the video below).

The cylindrical robot is about 20 inches across. It houses a high-speed propeller system for propulsion, while four small wings allow it to move up and down and in every direction. The drone is equipped with high-power cameras and GPS tracking. It can fly for about 30 minutes at a time.

It seems like a heavy-duty version of the iPhone-controlled Parrot AR.Drone that turned heads at CES earlier this year, but no doubt its range is much greater.

The ministry wants to use the drone to monitor volcanic eruptions, landslides and disaster areas, and deploy it to Self-Defense Forces across the country.