Israel's Elbit Systems unveils its tiny but powerful search and attack drone

It can zoom 65 feet per second.
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Search and attack drone Lanius
Search and attack drone Lanius

Elbit Systems/YouTube 

Lanius, a novel drone-based search-and-attack loitering munition, is built for short-range operation and can be deployed manually or by a multicopter, which is Legion-X compatible.  

The autonomous networked fighting system Legion-X is built on robotic platforms and diverse swarms. The creative modular solution offers a comprehensive, all-in-one system for planning, operating, and managing all sorts of unmanned platforms and missions and enables tactical supremacy at all levels, improves efficiency, and transforms capabilities in multi-domain conflict. By allowing the coordinated deployment of swarms of networked, heterogeneous autonomous platforms and payloads, Legion-X offers an advantage in peer/near-peer enemy warfare scenarios.

The system can identify, categorize, and sync to Elbit Systems' Legion-X solutions while autonomously scanning and mapping buildings and places of interest for potential threats. Lanius can conduct a wide range of mission profiles for special forces, the military, law enforcement, and HLS and can carry lethal or non-lethal payloads.

With a top speed of 45 mph

Lanius has a top speed of 45 mph (72.4 kph), a maximum takeoff weight of 2.75 pounds (1.25 kg), a limited flight time of seven minutes, and an operational speed of up to 65.6 feet (20 meters) per second in an outdoor setting. Lanius can transport either lethal or non-lethal payloads, though Elbit has not yet revealed the precise nature of those weapons. While Elbit extensively highlights Lanius' capacity to work with a man-in-the-loop, the drone can also autonomously carry out a full flight profile without assistance if necessary. Lanius can communicate over Wi-Fi or a software-defined radio.

Because of its racing drone-inspired design, Lanius may use its incredible speed and agility for rushing a target before detonating.

According to the manufacturer, the highly maneuverable drone is made to perform GPS navigation, scanning, and mapping tasks in challenging urban combat scenarios. This capacity is made possible by the drone's artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which are driven by an NVIDIA Jetson TX2 CPU. The drone can create a 3D map of its surroundings and transmit it to the operator through a handheld remote.

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"Lanius is equipped with cameras fitted with multiple visual sensors and an IMU [internal measurement unit]," claims the company in the Lanius datasheet. "The system incorporates a SLAM [simultaneous location and mapping] algorithm, using image processing to identify points of interest and displays relevant data and identification information to the operator."

The launch of Lanius serves merely to highlight how quickly small yet lethal drones are evolving in the defense sector.

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