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A tiny surveillance drone unveiled by a Chinese company is a copy of the Black Hornet Nano. The developer, privately owned Huaqing Innovation, said the micro drone could be used in areas such as public security surveillance and patrols, and for inspecting dangerous places such as chemical warehouses and pipelines.
The new drone – named Fengniao, or Hummingbird – can transmit high-definition images or real-time footage over a distance of more than 2km. The drone is just 17cm long and weighs 35 grams. It is heftier than the 10cm-long, 18-gram Black Hornet Nano made by Norway’s Prox Dynamics and can transmit images 400 meters further, though the drones have a similar operation time of about 25 minutes.
Unlike the Black Hornet’s battery which has to be recharged, the Fengniao’s battery can be replaced after a flight.
They also have similar camera combinations that allow for panoramic images to be taken at a relatively high altitude, and a thermal camera for night vision can be attached to both the Fengniao and the latest Black Hornet.
According to uasvision.com, the Fengniao is equipped with laser sensors on four sides to help it detect and avoid obstacles. It also supports networking data links, meaning it can be used as part of a swarm of up to 16 drones on a mission. Those data links also mean the latest tactical command systems can be used to control the drone from the ground via a smartphone app – and that could give it an edge over the Black Hornet, which has been in service for nearly a decade.