The US Army is buying 18000 drones from mini-palm sized drones to new ground robots for Afghanistan. The palm-sized Black Hornet mini-drone only weighs just over one ounce.
The Army is buying 9,000 systems — each with two drones — over three years for nine-man infantry squads.
A squad leader will use mini-drones to scout ahead by air before exposing human soldiers on the ground. The SBS has sensor options for both night and day, and it can fly about 20 minutes before needing to recharge.
But the squad-level mini-drone is just the entry model. Larger units will get larger, more capable, but also more expensive and more maintenance-hungry drones.
In 2020, there will be new drones that weigh three pounds or less, fly for 30 minutes, and be able to landing in a vantage point overlooking a target area so it can keep watch without burning through its flight time.
Squad Support Ground Robots
There are four robots competing to be the new robot for squads to have ground supply support.
The four competing ground robots are the Polaris MRZR, Howe & Howe Grizzly, HDT Wolf, and General Dynamics MUTT.