It’s a Kurt Vonnegut fantasy come true; the United State Military is toying with the idea of using tiny nano drones no bigger than a bumble bee for scoping out enemy positions in Afghanistan and for spying on our enemies in places like Iran and North Korea to see what kind of mischief they’re up to so they can be busted in the court of world opinion.
These minidrones are being tested by US Special Forces in secret testing grounds scattered across the United States. While the testing areas are Off Limits to civilians, word of their diminutive flights has leaked out to local media around the country, and sightings and photographs of the little mechanical snoops are appearing with more and more frequency in both mainstream and fringe media. The military is not going to be able to keep this project under wraps for very much longer.
A Norwegian company called Prox Dynamics is making the tiny drones for the Pentagon, after British soldiers began using similar devices back in 2013 to gather intel on snipers and terrorist suspects in South America. The little drones are called PD-100 Black Hornets — almost a DC comic book title, or Netflix show.
The Black Hornet nano drone fits in the palm of the hand and has a battery life of up to two hours. It can range as far as two miles and features both a regular and an infrared heat camera. It is also able to pick up audio transmissions and even human voices if it can get close enough. It’s four helicopter blades are unusually quiet and unobtrusive when viewed from the ground. Although the Pentagon is not commenting on it, media sources say that US Special Forces have already been using the little flying snoops to gather intel in Yemen, Afghanistan, Turkistan, and Iraq.
The FCC is not liking the proliferation of military grade mini drones, which might fall into the hands of nosy civilians or even homegrown anarchists bent on destruction. So far the huge price tag of the Black Hornet nano drone has kept it out of civilian hands — it retails at forty-thousand dollars each, according to Ole Aguirre, the business development VP of Prox Dynamics in Norway. But since the Pentagon plans on spending several billion dollars on drone technology in the next few years, that’s really no problem for the soldier on the ground who wants eyes in the sky to tell him or her where the enemy is lurking and in how big a group.
Some other uses of military nano drones that should be operational soon include flying them across flooded rivers to find safe passage areas for troops, and flying them right into the cones of active volcanoes to take samples, gauge the temperature, and send videos of magma activity — this is something that the Hawaii state government has specifically asked the Armed Forces to do for civilian safety on the Big Island. Mini drones are also being considered for MP duty at military camps, keeping soldiers and sailor with itchy feet from going AWOL and also guarding the parameters of camps looking for suspicious activity that might lead to an outside attack.
The one thing the military is NOT talking about is arming mini drones with any kind of weapon — but that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it, or have actually already got nano drones that can shoot poison darts or something equally deadly.