The Army Special Forces is experimenting with the PD-100 Black Hornet, from Norwegian manufacturer Prox Dynamics. The drone weighs an impossibly light 18 grams and is equipped with thermal cameras. It can stay airborne for nearly a half an hour with a range of about one kilometer (0.62 miles).
The Hornet is housed in a box that can be strapped to a utility belt; the box also stores data from the device so that it isn’t lost if the drone itself is captured. A one-handed control system lets the operator direct the drone, and a small, chest-mounted screen provides a live feed of what it sees. The operator can also set waypoints that guide the drone through unmanned flight.
Army Special Forces isn’t the first military unit to test out the drone. The British Brigade Reconnaissance Force has used it in Afghanistan to remotely explore enemy compounds.
The Hornet is the smallest drone to be used in a combat zone so far.
U.S. Special Operations Command has confirmed that the military is testing multiple Hornet drones, each of which costs $40,000. It’s a steep cost for most amateur drone enthusiasts, but the military probably has the money to splurge.