British army unveils toy-sized 'Black Hornet' drones

Posted By KATE STANTON,  |  Feb. 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM
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It's tiny, but it's not a toy.

British troops in Afghanistan have been testing out tiny unmanned aerial vehicles -- a.k.a. drones -- that are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. At four inches long and 16 grams, the Norweigian-made "Black Hornet Nanos" look just like the tiny play-helicopters you might see at the toy store, but they carry tiny cameras that capture both still images and video.

According to the BBC, about 160 of these little flyers are darting around Afghanistan on surveillance missions for soldiers.

"We used it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset," Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge said in an announcement Monday. "It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground."

The Hornets travel at a top speed of 22 mph and can remain in the air for about 30 minutes.

"Soldiers are using it to peer around corners or over walls and other obstacles to identify any hidden dangers and the images are displayed on a handheld terminal," the MoD announcement said.

Wired reported Monday that the Black Hornet mini-copter is part of a recent trend toward smaller drones -- from the the Air Force's bird-like bots to the backpack-sized "Switchblade" missile.

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