Swarm robots poised to fly amid acquisitions and military investment

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Summary: The military is going miniature, and that means big investments in small flying machines that will eventually operate in swarms.

An updated version of a battle-tested nano-UAV stole the show at an annual trial of military gadgets at Fort Benning, Georgia, last month. Tech readers may be nearing peak-UAV, but this autonomous bug-like vehicle is worth paying attention to.

The PD-100 Black Hornet, manufactured by Prox Dynamics, is an air vehicle about the size of a man’s finger. The UAV weighs 18 grams and now contains day and night-vision cameras that send still images or video back to an operator via a data-link. Designed for reconnaissance, the vehicle is incapable of attack or defense. But its size and ability to fly autonomously or semi-autonomously make it a clear precursor to the next generation of swarm robots. Welcome to the future of warfare. Continue reading

Taiwan develops ‘smart’ munitions against China

Taiwan’s air force will be armed with “smart” munitions before the year’s end that could be used against any Chinese invasion by striking airfields and harbours on the mainland, media reported Saturday.

The new weaponry, developed under a project codenamed “Wan Chien” (Ten Thousands Swords), is scheduled to be carried by dozens of Taiwan’s fighter jets.

The island nation began developing its own smart weapons after the United States – Taiwan’s main arms supplier – refused to sell them guided bombs. Continue reading