A new pocket-sized surveillance drone endorsed by the US Air Force which could ultimately end up in the hands of law enforcement can fly through open windows and reach other confined spaces.
The Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, developed by Massachusetts-based startup CyPhy Works, features a 360 degree high-resolution panoramic camera and is just 7 inches long when fully configured. The drone also features wireless communications relay technology and enjoys “virtually unlimited flight time” as a result of being tethered to a microfilament battery that provides power.
The company was recently awarded a contract by the US Air Force to develop a version of the drone to be used in search and rescue missions such as in collapsed buildings.
However, CyPhy Works CEO Helen Greiner envisages the project being expanded so that the drone will eventually be available to law enforcement authorities.
“The initial targeted users of the Pocket Flyer are Air Force Pararescuemen, Special Forces units, and Federal Emergency Management Agency teams,” reports Ars Technica. “But the company sees a much larger market long-term. “Just like a camera, the best drone is the one you have with you,” Greiner said in a prepared statement on the contract. “The market potential is one for every soldier, marine, police officer, SWAT team member, and many other jobs that expose people to danger.”
Although the Pocket Flyer is small enough to fly through open windows, it is by no means the smallest surveillance UAV currently in the works.
A number of drones modeled after insects, birds and other small mammals are already being readied for use by the military and law enforcement bodies.
As far back as the 1970s, the CIA attempted to develop a petrol powered “insectothopter” drone, while anti-war protesters in Washington DC complained that they were under surveillance by a fleet of dragonfly drones at an event in 2007.