Mini army drones developed

A Polish firm who develop new technologies for the military has devised a system of miniature drones capable of operating from vehicles for surveillance and even directly supporting infantry units.

WB electronics, which already manufactures surveillance and target acquisition systems for the Polish army, teamed up with another firm, Optimum, to develop drones with camera systems capable of attacking small targets with explosive charges.

The system, called ‘Bee’, can be configured to fit a number of the small-sized drones on to a military vehicle, such as the Rosomak (Polish for ‘Wolverine’) armored personnel carrier (APC).

The range of the drones controlled from a tablet-sized interface is around two kilometers with a flight time of 30 minutes.

One design, which WB Electronics say is unique to their system, is a camera head capable of thermal vision and laser target designation at just 300 grams (10.5 ounces) in weight.

“There is no other head this small in the world with two in-built cameras and which is also electromechanically stabilized by a gyroscope in two dimensions. This is an absolutely unique solution,” WB Electronics Director For Research and New Technologies, Wojciech Komorniczak, said.

The system is designed to offer support to infantry operating in an urban and densely built-up environment, and has an independent communications system.

“This is about a communications system which will operate very well in battle conditions despite dense urban development. Battle conditions are, for instance, when there is no mobile phone connection and the generally available wireless network is gone, so we have to supply such a network by ourselves,” Komorniczak said.

Other drones in the system are designed to attack targets from the air by flying close to them and exploding. Another solution in the prototype phase is the ‘Warmate’ drone that is meant to act like a guided missile providing a real-time video feed of its target.

“The innovative feature of our solution is that this drone can first identify the target and make sure that it is in fact the enemy our opponent, so that we don’t strike innocent people,” Komorniczak said.

The ‘Warmate’ drone is planned to be incorporated in the ‘Bee’ system in the future and is a cheaper and more versatile alternative to commonly used missile systems, the company says. Its full weight is planned to be several kilograms and when stowed away in a special container is meant to be easy to carry.

The company tests their drones in various conditions, ranging from Arctic to desert and jungle, as well as in high altitudes. The system is part of a tender by the Polish armed forces for a direct support attack system for the its infantry.