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The US Army has been buying large amounts of small drones for use among regular units, and it could be that in the near term these drones become standard equipment throughout the Army, changing the way many operations are conducted, according to thedrive.com.

The Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program seeks to field a low-cost, rapidly-deployable scout drone that can be carried by individual soldiers. Drone manufacturer Skydio was awarded a $20.2 million/year contract to deliver its X2D drones to the program in a five-year contract.

Skydio X2D can perform military and defense reconnaissance, search and rescue, and security patrol missions. According to the company, the drone pairs an AI-driven flight autonomy software with a foldable, highly portable airframe that leverages hyper-strength composites to withstand the most demanding environments. 

The AI tools enable 360-degree obstacle avoidance and “subject detection” of both people and vehicles. 

X2D features dual color optical thermal sensors and is equipped with GPS-based night flight and strobe lighting, making it ready for both day and night operations, while providing up to 35 min of flight time on a single battery. 

Designed, assembled, and supported in the USA, the drone complies with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s rigorous supply chain security requirements and offers cybersecurity protection.

The entire X2D drone with its battery weighs just under three pounds (less than 1.4kg). The drone is equipped with a 4K video camera with 16x digital zoom as well as a forward-looking infrared camera. Additional sensors can take 3D scans of the drone’s environment and enable autonomous scene reconstruction. 

Watch its daylight operation: