By George Jagels
As equipment improves, the average weight a soldier carries keeps rising. A 2009 Army study showed the average soldier humped 100 pounds of gear on patrol. And with budget freezes and force cuts, training specialists at the squad level is less and less feasible. Thus when one thinks of adding an unmanned aerial system (UAS) to a small unit, words like “unfeasible” and “unnecessary” might be the reaction. But what if that system took two days to learn and weighed 2.8 pounds, fitting into a soldier’s combat vest?
Prox Dynamics, a small UAS company based in Norway, builds just such a system. The PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, or Black Hornet, is a nano air vehicle (nano UAV) with many of the capabilities and potential of much larger, more complicated devices. In a field with ever more competition— witness the extraordinary expansion of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group—the Black Hornet seems in a class of its own. With the little heard from Aerovironment’s Hummingbird since 2011, my research shows operationally useful nano UAVs are confined to the Black Hornet.