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Handheld Black Hornet Nano drones issued to U.K. soldiers

By Jonathan Fincher
February 6, 2013

Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That's why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers.

Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters).

The Black Hornet Nano flies like a mini helicopter, but is stable enough to withstand harsh conditions and heavy wind. On a full charge, the tiny UAV can fly up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 22 mph (35 km/h), giving soldiers on the ground ample time to quickly survey an area. An operator can also use the control unit to pilot the drone directly or input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own.

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