Army Releases RFI for Nano Drone Weighing Under a Pound
Army leaders want to build a nano drone that weighs less than a pound with the entire unmanned system not weighing more than three pounds, according to a Request for Information released on FBO.gov on March 1.
The Army is calling its nano drone efforts, the Soldier Borne Sensors (SBS) program with Product Manager Soldier Maneuver Sensors (PM SMS) leading the work to outfit soldiers with these high tech unmanned systems. Army officials released the RFI ahead of a virtual Industry Day on April 12, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Developing nano drones to fly through buildings to protect soldiers before having to clear rooms is a high priority for Army leaders. The technology is catching up to Army expectations.
The British Army deploy the Black Hornet nano drone (pictured above) to Afghanistan in 2013. Built by Prox Dynamics, the nano drone measures 4 inches long and weighs only 16 grams to include batteries. It carries three cameras and can fly up to 11 mph.
Army leaders put together a list of features they would like to see the nano drone meet. This isn’t a list of requirements, but it does set expectations for what the Army is hoping for in the RFI. Below is the list:
- The system will be complete and stand-alone containing all necessary hardware, software, radio equipment, batteries and a tactical carrying pouch and is to be flown by a single operator.
- The system will display incoming video and telemetry data in near real time to the operator.
- System sensors will support day and night imaging.
- Full system weight (air element, ground element and display): 3.0 lbs.
- Air vehicle: 150 grams.
- The system must be operable in light precipitation.
- The system will have the ability to return to a predetermined location for loss-of-radio link.
- Must operate in a Federally (DoD) Allocated Radio Frequency – Examples (vendors are not limited to these examples): CONUS 355-380MHz or 1780-1850 MHz or 2025-2110 MHz, OCONUS 1625-1725MHz.
- The display will be visible in day or night and backlit with brightness and contrast controls.
- The system will accept a standard interoperable charging configuration with Military Standard and widely commercially available chargers.
- Air vehicle must operate in manual mode and operate in waypoint navigation mode.
- Air vehicle’s operating radius: Line of Sight: 500m
- Air vehicle’s mission endurance: 15 mins
- Air vehicle shall have, at range of 100 meters day (50 meters night), sufficient resolution for a trained operator to detect a man-sized target with a 90% probability.
- Air vehicle shall have, at range of 20 meters during the day, sufficient resolution for a trained operator to recognize a man-sized target and determine if armed with a rifle or not with a 90% probability.
- Air vehicle will have the ability to be hand launched and recovered, without exposing the operator, while in the prone position and while from cover & concealment, a hide site, confined area and alleyway type locations.
- Air vehicle’s launch time from stored to operational is less than 60 seconds.
- Air vehicle must be operable in constant winds up to 10 knots and gusts to 15 knots.