The recent collapse of a parking garage in lower Manhattan drew media attention to the New York City Fire Department’s deployment of a robotic dog named Bergh. However, another robot that played a crucial role in exploring the site was the Black Hornet, an exceptionally tiny and quiet drone used by the military for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.
Weighing less than 1.2 ounces, the Black Hornet takes off from an operator’s hand and streams video footage to a screen, allowing users to assess potential hazards before approaching a structure. Its small size and low noise signature make it virtually undetectable when more than 10 feet away from people and 10 feet in the air.
The Black Hornet’s maneuverability and quiet operation enable it to gather information about tight spaces up to a mile away or further. The latest version of the drone is also capable of operating without GPS, making it suitable for GPS-denied environments. It carries no weapons and is primarily used for reconnaissance purposes.
The operation of the Black Hornet involves a small display and a controller designed to be used with one hand. The drone’s flight starts with a simple twist and once it has determined its location, it takes off. The screen displays a live feed from the drone’s camera, providing a real-time view of the surroundings.
The Black Hornet is currently utilized by various branches of the US Department of Defense, including the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Recently, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense ordered 1,000 of these drones for deployment in Ukraine. The cost of a kit, including three drones and other equipment, is estimated to be around $85,000.
In addition to the standard camera sensor, the Black Hornet is also available with thermal vision capabilities. This allows the drone to detect heat signatures and display them in different ways on the base station’s screen, including a colorful “Predator mode.”
Overall, the Black Hornet serves as a valuable tool for assessing structural collapses, conducting reconnaissance missions, and providing critical intelligence in hazardous environments. Its small size and quiet operation make it ideal for gathering information without putting human lives at risk.
– “The Black Hornet: Inside the Tiny Military Spy Drone that Sniffs Out Danger” – Popular Science