Well it didn’t take long for quadcopters to become much more than just playthings for rich toy boys. The advances in materials, battery performance and electro-mechanics has propelled these particular flying gadgets to some pretty heady heights recently, to the extent that the military are clearly lining up their checkbooks.
Probably first in line for the budget will be the Aeryon SkyRanger, a ridiculously engineered marvel which sets the bar for this kind of remotely piloted micro craft. The UAS (unmanned aerial system) has a default flight time of almost an hour with payload, can sustain flight in headwinds of up to 40mph, carries dual EO/IR cameras with up to 15 megapixel still imaging and has a range of around 3 miles.
The device fits into a backpack, and what’s most impressive is the fact that it’s flown using a ‘point and click‘ touchscreen tablet with a stylus, which means you can be up and running as a remote pilot with the minimum of training.
The developers are marketing the thing to emergency services as well as the military, but all the blurb seems to feature khaki clad soldier types so it’s clear where they believe the real money lies. As incredibly impressive as the hardware and software behind this kit is, we can’t help feeling that the relentless progress of these small hovering aircraft could become problematical in the future, as they start being deployed in many more civilian surveillance situations.
The question is whether a world filled with tiny, silent, remote monitoring aircraft fills your soul with happiness or concern. The German rail service Deutsche Bahn has already announced plans to use drones like this to monitor graffitti artists on their property, which is hardly something that seems to warrant such a sophisticated response, but we probably should expect more of this type of activity in the future if the technology keeps improving at this rate.
In case you’re interested in the price, we wouldn’t suggest you even bother writing to ask. The company’s previous product sold for around $120,000 and there’s no reason to believe that this will be priced anywhere less. Business is business, right?