Pocket-sized aerial surveillance system under development

The U.S. Army is developing a pocket-sized sensor system -- used on a palm-sized unmanned helicopter -- to enhance situational awareness in difficult environments for dismounted troops.
By Richard Tomkins  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM
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NATICK, Mass., July 23 (UPI) -- A pocket-sized sensor system to give dismounted soldiers enhanced situational awareness is being developed by the U.S. Army.

The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program is being conducted by the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

"While larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, none of those delivers it directly to the squad level, where soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions." The Army said.

A surrogate system for larger systems will involve commercial off-the-shelf technologies.

One is Prox Dynamics' PD-100 Black Hornet, a palm-sized miniature helicopter weighing only 16 grams. It can fly for as long as 20 minutes while providing real-time video via a digital data link from one of three embedded cameras.

"The Cargo Pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new soldier capabilities," said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting technical director of the Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. "It provides an integrated capability for the soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding with negligible impact on soldier load and agility."

The Army said development efforts are focused on different aspects of the technology: redesign of a digital data link to achieve compatibility with U.S. Army standards; development and integration of advanced payloads for low-light imaging; and development and enhancement of guidance, navigation and control algorithms to allow the airborne sensor to operate in confined and indoor spaces, such as individual rooms as soldiers clear buildings.

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