“Black Hornet” mini-drone wows people who never taped a keychain cam to a RC helicopter

February 5, 2013 20:20 | By | Add a Comment

Is it a toy? Is it a RC model? No, it’s a $200.000 drone for the military! Read on how these ebay toys suddenly look like even more of a steal.

MINIATURE SURVEILLANCE HELICOPTERS HELP PROTECT FRONTLINE TROOPS

It was only a matter of time before the military finally gets to enjoy the benefits of a $15 toy helicopter with a camera strapped to it. ProxDynamix’ “Black Hornet” is essentially a fixed-pitch ruggedized miniature RC helicopter with a camera. Piloting is done via a one-hand controller, the video feed is sent to a handheld monitor.  No word on range, operation time or the video link type, though one should hope that the video feed is at least somewhat encrypted, unlike the Predator drones a few years ago.

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Charging is done via a nice base station that also acts as a protective travel case. In development since 2008 (!) they say they spent years on making the helicopter more silent than its toy brethren.

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The main rotor blades are carbon fiber, and the tail apparently uses a disk-shaped motor instead of the typical cylindrical coreless motor. Presumably this eliminates most of the whirring typically coming from the tail, but it apparently doesn’t make soldier’s fingernails less ugly.

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The control stick is most likely equipped with accelerometers for motion control. Otherwise it would be difficult to control all functions with one hand. The use of an external TFT monitor is questionable, as any FPV hobbyist who tried to pilot anything this way in bright daylight can confirm.

ProxDynamics was awarded a $31 million contract for the delivery of 160 units. At a unit price of almost $200.000 you probably shouldn’t expect this to appear on Hobbyking anytime soon… or ever. The price markup is quite breathtaking, considering the Lockheed Martin “Desert Hawk III” features a stabilized video system and a waypoint-capable autopilot, and costs only half as much.

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