U.S. Army Designing Camera Drones to Be Hurled out of Grenade Launchers

Ground-based military troops will have eyes in the skies now.
Fabienne Lang
U.S. Army camera droneArmy News Service

The U.S. Army is developing a new camera drone that will be propulsed out of grenade launchers. This way, ground soldiers will have a birds-eye view of what's going on around them. 

The grenade launcher is already a staple of the Army's utilities, whereas the drone, called GLUAS, will be new. By using grenade launchers the Army is sparing its troops of having to carry yet another new gadget.


Busy U.S. Army engineers

Engineers of the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground have been busy at work creating a new camera drone. The drone will be shot out of the current M320 grenade launcher the Army already uses, can hover over the troops for around 90 minutes, enabling soldiers to see where danger may be lying ahead, behind, or to the sides. 

What's fantastic about this drone and grenade launch "affiliation" is that it would be usable for groups as small as two to three soldiers, essentially offering them their own little spy aircraft. 

U.S. Army Designing Camera Drones to Be Hurled out of Grenade Launchers
The Army's new drone, Source: Army News Service

The Grenade Launch Unmanned Aerial System, or GLUAS, is meant to produce a mini drone with a camera that will be launched from the M320 grenade launcher. It is 40 millimeters in diameter, and the real breakthrough is how miniaturized autonomous flight hardware has become.

The drone itself has a two-kilometer range with a battery life of around 90 minutes and can operate up to 2,000-feet above ground, say the researchers. Once it's in the air, the drone unfurls its wings and soars at a fixed airspeed that's controlled remotely by ground control troops. 

The Army is working on two versions of the 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," explained John Gerdes, a mechanical engineer with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). 

"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," Gerdes said. "This integrates modern types of intelligence."

Gerdes further explained that "We’re here to develop innovative concepts for the warfighter’s needs, which generally means we bring the size and weight down of a device, and push up the range and lethality."

"At ARL, we’re typically focused on the basic innovation and discovery aspects of research."

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