British Army trials nano-UAV

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BAE Systems and UK-based drone manufacturer UAVTEK have developed a nano-drone and delivered the first 30 units to the British Army for testing.

The Bug is a nano-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weighing 196g – similar to the weight of a smartphone – with 40-minute battery life and a 2km range. It features a low visual profile and four rotors that enable it to fly in winds of more than 50mph.

The nano-UAV was recently put through its paces by the British Army at a recent Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) event hosted by the Ministry of Defence’s Future Capability Group.

Innovations at the annual AWE event are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities, and this year focused on Agile Command, Control and Communication space suitable for rapid exploitation.

Designed and built in the Cotswolds, the Bug features a high-res camera that could soon include infra-red detection capabilities. Furthermore, the UAV’s antennas allow it to beam videos back to troops and could in future act as a battlefield data hub and listening device.

James Gerard, principal technologist at BAE Systems’ applied intelligence business, said: “In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what’s around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update.

“Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions.”

The teams are now working on the next developments on the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment and capabilities that could be added, as well as how the Bug could be integrated with other military equipment.

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