The Next Tool for the CIA: Helicopters That Fit in Your Palm

By Boonsri Dickinson
May 6, 2009 8:06 PMNov 5, 2019 8:50 AM


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Here it is, a 15-gram helicopter that fits in your hand and looks like something out of a James Bond sequence. Except it’s not a movie prop—it’s the PD-100 Black Hornet. With video cameras for eyes and fully-functional 4-inch rotor blades, the helicopter can lift off the ground in a matter of seconds and fly at 20 miles per hour. A built-in GPS system allows it to carefully navigate outdoor terrain without getting lost. Tests have shown that it can even handle windy conditions. If the Norwegian company Prox Dynamics successfully manufactures the Hornet as planned, soldiers might soon begin to use them on the battlefield. The best part? The tiny aircraft is so small it can fit in their pockets. DARPA also has mini-choppers in the works, but they’re designed to fly indoors only. The agency is also developing ones that look (and fly) more like bugs than aircraft. Black Hornet will most likely beat any competitors to the market—by next year, the company plans on selling the device to any governments and their respective agencies that show interest. Granted, it’s no Energizer Bunny: The mini-chopper’s batteries only last 30 minutes, so don’t expect any tiny Russian spies buzzing outside your window anytime soon. Related Content: Discoblog: Microbot Can Grab Things And Can Fly DISCOVER: Claw Is World's Tiniest Surgeon

Image: Prox Dynamics

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