AeroVironment's new Snipe Nano Quadrotor is a man-packable drone with the potential to be carried by every foot soldier, vastly increasing situational awareness and individual capability. The Snipe will also be available commercially later this year for police, first responders and all those who need to be able to see what's happening in places they cannot safely go.
Announced at AUVSI in Dallas today, the Snipe Nano Quad UAS weighs just 140 grams (5 oz) and fits into a small hard case light enough to be carried – though AeroVironment has not yet disclosed the weight of the entire UAS including the ruggedized touch screen controller.
AeroVironment designed the Snipe for "close-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions" and most importantly for those who might use it in theatre, it can be in the air within 60 seconds.
Once in the air, the Snipe can record or relay real-time hi-res video to the soldier's control unit around the clock via its low-light electro/optical and infrared cameras, which are positioned in a built-in tilting mechanism.
Fight time is around 15 minutes per battery (there are two in the kit), with a top speed of 22 mph and a range of 1 kilometer.
The Snipe has integrated UHF radio for non-line-of-sight operation and the software-defined radio (SDR) means that Snipe can be sold commercially, beyond being just a defense supplier. Non-commercial orders will be accepted by the company from Q3, 2017 and the first military order was fulfilled last month.
AeroVironment says the tiny quadcopter is both stable in strong winds (15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph) and very quiet, meaning that it can be deployed to hover and stare from relatively close range with great stealth. It is flown by a standard, ruggedized (MIL-STD 810) touch screen controller and if it loses its radio link, it returns to its operator automatically.
The Snipe is apparently a distant relative of Aerovironment's wing-flapping Nano Hummingbird, with at least some of the technology used being derived from the wing-flapping mini UAV.
On top of everything else, AeroVironment claims the Snipe is so easy to fly that operator training takes just four hours.
The AeroVironment video below takes a detailed look at the Snipe.