The US Army is getting tiny personal surveillance drones as part of a $2.6 million contract with Flir, a thermal imaging and technology company.
The Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System is the world's smallest combat-proven nano-drone, according to the company. The US Army has ordered the next-generation Black Hornet 3, which weighs 32 grams and packs navigation capabilities for use in areas outside of GPS coverage. The drone, which has advanced image processing from earlier versions, and can fly a distance of two kilometers at more than 21 kilometers an hour and carries a thermal microcamera.
The order marks the US Army's first for the Soldier Borne Sensors program, which aims to provide military personnel with more awareness of their surroundings using drones.
Choosing the Black Hornet drones "represents a key opportunity to provide soldiers in every U.S. Army squad a critical advantage on the modern battlefield," Flir CEO James Cannon said in a statement. "This contract demonstrates the strong demand for nano-drone technology offered by Flir and opens the way for broad deployment across all branches of the military."
The US Army bought Black Hornet drones from Flir for testing and evaluation in 2016 and 2017, and will continue to evaluate and potentially roll out more drones for all infantry units. In 2015, the Army special forces tested a handful of the palm-size PD-100 Black Hornet drones from Norway's Prox Dynamics.
Flir is known for its thermal imaging camera technology, which it has been integrating into drones.