U.S. Army Awards $39.6M Contract to 'The World's Sixth Sense' For Fleet of Personal Recon Drones

Monday, 04 February 2019 - 2:16PM
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Monday, 04 February 2019 - 2:16PM
U.S. Army Awards $39.6M Contract to 'The World's Sixth Sense' For Fleet of Personal Recon Drones
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FLIR Press Tools
The U.S. Army is preparing to equip soldiers with a game-changing piece of technology that will empower individual ground troops with real-time reconnaissance information delivered from the air. A recent press release reports that FLIR Systems has just been awarded a $39.6 million contract to supply the Army with an unknown number of FLIR Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance Systems (PRS): miniature drones equipped with cameras.


FLIR Systems Press Tools

At just 6.6" long and weighing under just over an ounce, the Black Hornet bears more resemblance to a miniature helicopter than a civilian UAV. The company's product specifications reveal a device that is compact, easy to use, and adaptable to a range of climates and environments. Boasting both electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) cameras capable of returning both live video and still photographs to a control system that FLIR notes requires no specialized training, the device seems to promise an out of the box solution to the limitations of ground reconnaissance. The tiny devices have radio ranges of up to 1.24 miles (two kilometers), fly at 20 feet per second with a maximum flight time of 25 minutes, and, most importantly possess "extremely low visual and audible signatures (that) allow covert operation and increased security for dismounted soldiers."




While the technology is indeed impressive, privacy advocates may be skeptical of FLIR's intentions. According to their website, FLIR's raison d'être is to "strengthen public safety and well-being, increase energy and time efficiency, and contribute to healthy and intelligent communities" with a vision of being "'The World's Sixth Sense' by leveraging thermal imaging and adjacent technologies to provide innovative, intelligent solutions for security and surveillance, environmental and condition monitoring, outdoor recreation, machine vision, navigation, and advanced threat detection." 


Although no date was publicly set for the fulfillment of the Army's order, FLIR's press release noted that over 8000 individual units have already been delivered worldwide. In addition, their press tools seem to indicate the the devices may have already been purchased – or at least have been field tested – by the Australian army.
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