Parrot to build small surveillance drones for U.S. soldiers on the battlefield

parrot anafi drone in air
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

French dronemaker Parrot has spent much of its existence in the shadow of DJI, the successful Chinese maker of a range of popular quadcopters that include the Mavic range, alongside more advanced offerings such as the Inspire 2.

The Paris-based company has been given a boost, however, after being selected by the United States Department of Defense as one of six companies to develop small, short-range reconnaissance aircraft for use by soldiers on the battlefield. The others are Skydio, Altavian, Teal Drones, Vantage Robotics, and Lumenier, all of which are based in the U.S.

An $11 million fund will be shared among the companies to help them prototype their own individual drones to provide soldiers with an effective way of gaining situational awareness on the battlefield, beyond the line of sight.

According to the contract’s guidelines, the final drone design should be able to fly for 30 minutes on a single charge and have a range of up to 1.86 miles (3 km). Importantly, the remotely controlled drones should weigh no more than three pounds, take less than two minutes to assemble, and fit inside a soldier’s standard-issue backpack.

While the funds will certainly be useful for helping to develop the machines, it seems Parrot already has an aircraft pretty much ready to go with its 2018 Anafi quadcopter. Besides offering 4K video and 21-megapixel stills, the Anafi can fly for 25 minutes on a single charge and has a range of more than 2 miles. It folds away into a small case, too, and weighs just 0.71 pounds. The company recently released a version sporting a thermal-imaging camera, a feature that would certainly come in useful on the battlefield.

Commenting on the contract, Henri Seydoux, founder and CEO of Parrot, said in a release: “The United States has always been a major market for the Parrot Group whether it is for our well-known consumer range or our advanced professional offering.”

Seydoux said his company has been “at the forefront” of creating advanced, easy to use, and reliable compact drones, adding that his team is looking forward to “focusing our advanced R&D on meeting the high standards set by the U.S. Army, to integrate drone efficiency in their day to day operations, and support the world-leading army defense system.”

Despite DJI’s huge success in the global drone market, the company has missed out on being chosen likely because of increasing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, as well as security fears over the use of Chinese technology, evidenced by the U.S. government’s ongoing action against Chinese tech giants such as Huawei.

Emerging Tech

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy but loses core booster in crash landing

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy blazed spectacularly through the Florida sky early Tuesday local time as the world’s largest operational rocket embarked on its third and most challenging mission to date.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.
Cars

Airbus-backed Voom could take on Uber’s on-demand flying taxi service

Airbus-backed Voom says it's planning to take its on-demand helicopter taxi to more U.S. cities this fall, a move that could put it in direct competition with Uber's app-based air taxi service launching soon in New York City.
Emerging Tech

Drone delivery services may prove too noisy for some in Australia

While delivery drones can offer benefits such as speed and efficiency, the machines still make quite a racket when they're in the sky. And the issue has now reached the inbox of the Australian government.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX is on a hiring spree for its Starlink global internet project

After a string of delays, SpaceX's Starlink project was finally launched last month. Now an analysis of data from SpaceX's job listings shows the company is on a hiring tear, advertising for more and more positions for the project.
Emerging Tech

Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year

The Mars 2020 rover is getting ready for its trip to the red planet next year. The latest step in readying the rover is installing its wheels and suspension system, which engineers at NASA have been doing this month.
Emerging Tech

Want to work in the stars? Here are six future space jobs you could hold

Ever dreamed of leaving Earth to work in the stars? Here's a list of job titles that might sound like science fiction now, but almost certainly won’t a decade or two in the future.
Emerging Tech

You can help search for aliens with an open access release of SETI data

The Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, recently analyzed its first three years of radio telescope data. And all of the data collected is being made publicly available in an open data archive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
News

Apple’s new Seattle campus may mean big things for Siri, artificial intelligence

Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday, with a significant number of those jobs focused on Siri and artificial intelligence.