Tiny tethered drone gives soldiers a view of the dangers ahead

Drones already give troops valuable data about enemies and devastated areas, but the existing vehicles have their limits; big aerial drones can't see inside buildings, and their ground-based counterparts can't get over rough terrain. Well, CyPhy Works might just have reached a happy balance between those two extremes. It recently signed a deal with the US Air Force to produce the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, a very tiny UAV (it weighs just 2.8oz) that sends HD video to soldiers for up to two hours. The key to its portability is a 250-foot microfilament tether that delivers both power and data -- bulkier gear like batteries will stay with the soldier. This has the upshot of adding reliability and security, since there's no wireless signal subject to interference or jamming.

The military may be calling dibs on the Pocket Flyer, but combat recon (such as special forces and tunnel surveillance) is only part of the story. CyPhy notes that the focus will be on search and rescue; the drone should help find people in collapsed buildings and other situations where it'd be too dangerous to go in blind. While there's no firm timetable for when this pint-sized machine will be ready, it's far enough into development that you could see it enter service relatively quickly.