Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

The use-once flying video camera

The use-once flying video camera

The use-once flying video camera

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The Firefly is a new disposable camera fired from a grenade launcher designed for those unfortunate moments a soldier encounters once in a while when you need to see what’s ahead, but don’t have a UAV to tell you. The Firefly is a miniature projectile weighing 145g and launched from a standard-issue M203 grenade launcher attached to an M16 assault rifle. It’s a use-once video camera with a life-span of just eight seconds. The idea behind the Firefly is that it is launched skyward above the area you wish to get a look at – say, over the next hill or above the location of people who are shooting at you. The camera has a range of 600 metres and and thanks to the wings that extend once it is launched, an extended hang-time of around eight seconds during which it transmits high resolution, colour video images back to portable PC or handheld (with add-on receiver and antenna) of what’s lying directly under its trajectory.

The Firefly is a miniature projectile weighing 145g and launched from a standard-issue M203 grenade launcher attached to an M16 assault rifle. It’s a use-once video camera with a life-span of just eight seconds. The idea behind the Firefly is that it is launched skyward above the area you wish to get a look at – say, over the next hill or above the location of people who are shooting at you.

The camera has a range of 600 metres and and thanks to the wings that extend once it is launched, an extended hang-time of around eight seconds during which it transmits high resolution, colour video images back to portable PC or handheld (with add-on receiver and antenna) of what’s lying directly under its trajectory.

The concept of the disposable grenade camera seems to have originated in isreal where similar devices are being developed by both both Rafael Armaments Development Authority and Israel Military Industries with its Reconnaissance Rifle Grenade (RRG).

IMI is best known for its popular small arms and the weapon of choice for many armed forces around the world, the Uzi submachine gun, arguably the most popular submachine gun in the world, because of its compact nature and reliability.

The RRG is an integral part of IMI’s Multi-Purpose Rifle System (MPRS) and carries a simple day/night digital camera (the Firefly is currently daytime only) with a 600 meter visual range and a digital map capable of providing full coordinates such as azimuth and elevation.

The RRG flies for about six seconds, compared with the Firefly’s eight seconds, with the final few seconds providing birds-eye-view video. Like the Firefly, the RRG measures 3.8 cm in diameter, though it is slightly longer.

The MPRS is a technology of the future in that it combines a fire-control system with a new family of ammunition that can either be fired as a bullet-trap rifle grenade from a 5.56 mm assault rifle or from a fitted grenade launcher. The ammunition can be programmed three ways: as airburst, as point detonation and for time-delayed detonation. The advanced optic site of the MPRS coupled with the accuracy afforded by a laser rangefinder provides accuracy of 1 metre at ranges of up to 600 metres. We have previously covered another air-burst ammunition system, the XM25 prototypehere.

These new technologies are almost certain to become widespread in the near future as they provide a soldiers with instant reconnaissance images of the enemy at a fraction of the cost of unmanned aircraft.

As we go to press, we have identified yet another Grenade-Launched Imaging Modular Projectile System known as GLIMPS combining a camera and a radio transmitter in a 40-mm projectile, that is being developed as a stand-off sensor for a variety of applications. It is envisaged that the system will be used by law enforcement as well as the military in urban environments to extend surveillance capabilities.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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