Scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have designed a camera drone capable of being fired from a 40 mm grenade launcher, researchers say, on the heels of a patent filed last month. There are two variants of the Grenade Launched Unmanned Aerial System, or GLUAS, one is a is a small, paragliding system with folding blade propellers and Mylar paragliding wings to help it stay in the air, and the other is a helicopter-style that hovers on a gimbaling set of coaxial rotors.
The GLUAS is a small projectile, 40 millimeters in diameter, can cover a long distance with a gun-launching system. The breakthrough is with how miniaturized autonomous flight hardware has become. The drone has a 2-kilometer range with a projected battery life that could top 90 minutes, and is capable of operating up to 2,000 feet in the air. After launching, the drone spreads its wings and soars at a fixed airspeed controlled by ground troops with a joystick or handheld device. On the drone, a camera is equipped to provide a video feed to a ground station below.
For example, on the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, if Soldiers found themselves under sniper fire, they could deploy the drone to check over the area and determine the enemy’s location. The lightweight GLUAS drone is designed to increase Soldier lethality by giving them a bird’s eye view of the battlefield, he explained, and will easily integrate into most kits carried by Soldiers in the field. This device provides an autonomy and intelligence platform to help Soldiers perform useful missions while having a lookout from hundreds of feet in the air.
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is the U.S. Army’s corporate research laboratory. ARL is headquartered at the Adelphi Laboratory Center (ALC) in Adelphi, Maryland. Its largest single site is at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Other major ARL locations include Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Orlando, Florida, and NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Ohio and Langley Research Center, Virginia.