The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has developed a drone prototype armed with a twin-barrel stabilized shotgun, particularly for indoor operations, the Times reported.
The UK military currently uses a range of drones for outdoor use, but this will be their first weaponized drone to be used indoors.
The hexacopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), named i9, is jointly produced by the MoD’s Strategic Command and an unidentified company to assist the British armed forces in operations involving indoor fighting.
2/11 Indoor drone navigation has been a hot research question for a while. Bottom line: operating drones indoors is much harder than outdoors because indoor drones can't use GPS for navigation, their links to operators won't be reliable, and there's much more stuff to crash into.
— Arthur Holland Michel (@WriteArthur) September 30, 2020
‘Machine Vision’ to Identify People Inside
The about a meter long (3.2 ft) UAV uses a camera powered with “machine vision” to identify people and objects inside a compound, similar to how a driverless car senses its surroundings.
Additionally, the artificial intelligence and physics used in the system allow the UAV to stay upright and avoid crashing inside a small room due to the phenomenon called “wall suck,” a problem that occurs due to the way the drone displaces air.
“This type of UAS will reduce the threat to life of personnel by giving tactical commanders the option to send a remotely-controlled machine into dangerous scenarios rather than put personnel or military working dogs at significant risk,” the MoD said to the MailOnline.
The armed forces are testing the prototype, and it’s expected to undergo trials with other weapons, including rockets and chain guns.
The MoD didn’t reveal the name of the company that has developed the prototype and photos of the drone were also not shown because the company is in stealth mode, which means it’s in negotiations for funding and therefore does not have a public profile.
Lessons from Afghanistan
The drone has been developed keeping in mind the lessons learned from the British Army’s experiences in Afghanistan, where several British troops suffered casualties while entering barricaded buildings.
The drone, the Times wrote, is hoped to help troops during the “breach” phase of a mission by flying ahead of them inside a compound and neutralize adversaries inside.
“Moving through urban environments, and particularly within buildings, regularly exposes personnel to significant danger and unexpected lethal force,” MoD said to the MailOnline.