This new military drone can infiltrate buildings, tunnels, and houses

Designed based on a racing drone platform, Lanius can navigate complex urban environments and buildings due to its small size. He knows how to map his environment in 3D and identify threats. It is also a deadly bullet.

In Ukraine, the Shahed 136, known as Iranian-made suicide drones, are terrorizing the population. For their part, the Ukrainians destroy Russian tanks with hidden ammunition, i.e. also drones loaded with explosives. This is the case of Switchblad or Phoenix Ghost. Here comes a new form of portable ammunition: the Lanius. Designed by the Israeli company Elbit, the Lanius is a short-range quadcopter drone whose architecture is reminiscent of an FPV racer drone.

It is this type of drone that is used by remote pilots who perform obstacle courses in competition or to produce stunning video sequences. Able to glide at very high speeds, the drone is therefore very small in size and weighs 1.25 kg. Its autonomy is limited to just seven minutes and its operating speed is 20 meters per second outdoors. In addition to having the ability to transform into bullets, the aircraft also knows how to map its environment in real time with its multiple cameras and sensors, which is useful in urban combat situations.

An AI to identify armed fighters

It is an Artificial Intelligence that is at work to carry out this operation thanks to a Jetson TX2 processor from Nvidia. The system for image processing and identifying useful and relevant points is based on an algorithm called Slam. Still using its AI, Elbit claims that the drone can determine whether the individuals it detects are combatants or civilians, as it analyzes the threats and the weapons present.

If the radio link is lost, the blur remains of what the drone is supposed to do when it’s in autonomous mode.

In the video, we see the operator press a large button to trigger the explosive charge. However, in the technical sheet of the drone, it is not so clear, because the drone can be “remotely piloted” as well as carry out its mission completely autonomously. The ethical question of using killer robots comes up again. Also, if the radio link is lost, the blur remains of what the drone is supposed to do when it’s in autonomous mode.

The Israeli company Elbit made this amazing video to concretely show the different scenarios in which this mini drone can be used. © Elbit sys.

An autonomous killer drone?

Elbit describes situations where the explosive charge can be exploited and it is important to clear filled openings, eliminate a sniper or carry out an ambush by hiding behind a door, for example. In a presentation video, Elbit showed that the drone’s low autonomy is not necessarily a concern, as it can be brought closer to its target from another multicopter drone.

In the example, three Lanius flew from a transporter drone. A view that comes from the world of video games, but is nonetheless very real. As another scenario, a soldier can be seen taking the Lanius out of his backpack and deploying it directly into the field. This is exactly the type of device that can be sent in large swarms to provide real-time surveillance of movement and eliminate enemy positions completely. With the ease of use of these drones, soldiers on the ground will not need outside help to perform this type of mission.

It should also be noted that the drone is only one of the components of an autonomous robotic combat package called Legion-X. Designed by Elbit, this combination of ground and air combat robots can work together. If they are supposed to support the missions of human fighters by synchronizing themselves with them, they can perform their mission completely autonomously.

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