It may seem like one of the futuristic James Bond gizmos, but it is for real.

A new ‘nanodrone’ weighing just 198 gm, one of the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, has been devised in the UK and is currently being examined by the US military to take on the Taliban.

It fits in the palm of a hand and could become a potent new weapon for the forces in the fight against the Taliban.

Military chiefs believe the spy drone called the SQ-4 Recon, worth 20,000 pounds and one of the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, will save soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan.

It is a miniature version of Little Nellie, the autogyro flown by James Bond in the film You Only Live Twice.

Devised by Cardiff-based BCB International and Middlesex University’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory, the SQ-4 Recon is being examined by the US military.

The Ministry of Defence is also aware of the nanodrone’s potential.

The ‘nanodrone’ contains two cameras which allow soldiers to look over hills and inside enemy bunkers without the risk of being killed or injured, the Daily Mail reported.

It can be operated remotely by troops sitting in a control room thousands of miles away or by soldiers on patrol using a seven-inch tablet computer.

Having a nine-inch diameter, the nanodrone can fly and hover for 30 minutes or switch off its engines and perch like a bird on the ledge of a building, and, without being spotted, zoom in on suspicious activities for up to eight hours.

Its cameras can transmit live images or take still photos or video footage using day or night vision.

This means soldiers can carry out reconnaissance missions without putting themselves at risk of walking into an ambush or stepping on a buried bomb.

Andrew Howell, Managing Director of BCB International, said: “This gives the modern war fighter the ability to carry out reconnaissance tasks without putting themselves in harm’s way.”

“The video footage could give information on where the enemy is located, what they look like, how they are dressed and what weapons they have,” he said.

“Should things take a turn for the worse, no operators can be captured or killed. It also allows for more service personnel to be released for frontline duties,” Howell added.

The current drones deployed in Afghanistan are so large they have to be launched like conventional fixed-wing aircraft and make easy targets for Taliban marksmen.

In February, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted that “new nano-unmanned aerial systems... are planned for introduction.”

(This article was published on August 3, 2012)
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