Farnborough Air Show: See the new disposable unmanned aerial vehicle

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Farnborough Air Show: See the new disposable unmanned aerial vehicle

Bill Goodwin

A US company has developed a disposable unmanned aerial vehicle that is light and small enough for soldiers to carry around in their backpacks.

The UAV, displayed at Farnborough Air Show, could be used in trouble spots to allow troops to quickly assess their surroundings for danger.

The plane, which has been developed by Aurora Flight Sciences, is made out of expanded polypropylene, a more robust version of polystyrene, and weighs only 2lbs. It is little bigger than a laptop computer.

The plane is held together with Velcro, and can be assembled by an experienced person in a minute, said George Kiwada, product manager.

"It can be used by a small group of soldiers. If they want to look at the other side of a building, or look into a window they can do that straight away, rather than phoning and asking for someone to send over a UAV," he said.

Known as Skate, the plane contains a tiny autopilot which keeps the plane steady in the air, allowing it to be controlled remotely by an inexperienced pilot.

A built-in camera beams images back to a display on the ground. It has the capacity to fly for an hour on a single charge.

The plane is robust enough to survive knocks or someone standing on it. However it is cheap enough for soldiers to leave behind, if they have to.

"We wanted it to be disposable. When a standard UAV goes missing, soldiers can spend three days looking for it. We did not want anyone risking their lives with this one," said Kiwada.


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