There are now dozens of different types of drones in the Pentagon's arsenal. But you'd be hard-pressed to find one smaller than this Wasp Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), now being tested aboard the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group off Southern California."The Wasp has two cameras one forward and one aft that collect and feed live video or other information. Its designed to follow a programmed or relayed route using Global Positioning System waypoints or other navigational systems," C4ISR Journal says.Last month, researchers on the Nimitz's ships "launched several of the 7-ounce, 13-inch planes." Sailors there will be taking "the Wasp along on its upcoming deployment, used it for several missions, including maritime interdiction and force protection. Micro UAVs might help in situations in which ships do not have helicopters available... 'It has the potential to save lives during boardings,' said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Roth, the Nimitz groups communications officer."Meanwhile, Darpa and Honeywell are teaming up for a second, slightly larger MAV program. Weighing in at about 12 pounds, the gallon-of-apple-juice-sized drone is meant to fit inside a soldier's (already overstuffed) backpack. The idea is that the MAV will give a small infantry unit the ability to see over the next hill, or around the next corner. That's pretty much what the hand-launched Raven and Dragon Eye drones do today. But this MAV uses ducted fan propulsion, giving it a helicopter-like ability to hover over a valley or alleyway -- or even land on a nearby rooftop, and watch a battle unfold.
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