Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That's why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers.

Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters).

The Black Hornet Nano flies like a mini helicopter, but is stable enough to withstand harsh conditions and heavy wind. On a full charge, the tiny UAV can fly up to 30 minutes at a top speed of 22 mph (35 km/h), giving soldiers on the ground ample time to quickly survey an area. An operator can also use the control unit to pilot the drone directly or input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own.

Prox Dynamics AS, based in Norway, developed the Black Hornet Nano as a smaller follow-up to its previous PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, which was originally designed for search and rescue tasks. The British military first put the little drone to use in Afghanistan in 2012, following a £20m contract with Marlborough Communications Ltd. to supply 160 of them to troops in the area.

So far, the military has already stated the Black Hornet Nano has been a helpful tool for spotting enemy shooters and explosive traps in the field. The British Ministry of Defence has also noted that this is one of many new innovative gadgets planned for the coming years.

Source: Ministry of Defence via BBC