back to article 'Soon soldiers will have 3 tiny choppers in their pocket'

Top Norwegian microcopter boffins say they have now successfully tested the fagpacket-sized PD-100 Black Hornet vidcam whirlybird - outdoors. The firm has also released video of the tiny aircraft in indoor flight tests: The PD-100 isn't the same as your common-or-garden cheapo remote control toy copter, great as those are …


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  1. Steve Evans
    Black Helicopters

    Looks like fun...

    But I have serious doubts about how something that light would handle the slight breezes that occur in some place, you know, like outside!

    Still I guess it's a neat way to check out a building (assuming they haven't blown all the windows in/out with bullets and stun grenades and let that nasty draft in.

    I'm off to secure my premises with one of those panning fans... On level 3... Muwahahahaha!

  2. Donal Gavin

    Manhack anyone?

    For some reason when i read the title i thought of a half life 2 style manhack. That would be better/cooler for soldiers

  3. b166er
    Black Helicopters

    Nearly Lewis

    I thought you were going to make it through your first serious article until the rolled up newspaper bit

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Very clever.

    Now get it down to 50 quid a pop and on the shelves in Toys 'R Us in time for Christmas.

  5. Tim Spence
    Thumb Up

    Words cannot describe... much I want one of those.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    look at my lovely chopper.

    I thought it would be fag-packet shaped (with a rotor in the centre) - a bit like a UFO sort of design (or like the gunship in HL2).

    This looks quite delicate so wonder if it would be affected by wind/rain. It also looks like they would need assembling once out of pocket so not sure how that would work at night or under heavy fire from the opposing force.

  7. Alex Wilson

    micro assasin?

    'deployment of special payload'....compressed air curare tipped dart gun anyone?

    No need for line of sight, or noisy firearms, or Eastern European gentlemen wielding sharpened the hell would you protect someone from one of these?

  8. James

    Not obvious then ...

    .. to anyone who can detect a fly (bluebottle size) in their office space!

  9. Alan Donaly


    An emergency hypodermic filled with Physostigmine should work but you would have to be quick.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    This reminds me of the time...

    ...when I had 3 soldiers' choppers in my tiny pocket. Best night ever!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Battery Life

    Battery life? With the toy minituare helicopters on the market battery life is around 2 minutes.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Mike

    can't wait

    come on china, you know you want to!

    /me starts monitoring ebays hong kong sellers

  14. Stewart Haywood

    I wonder.....

    if it can stop engines and sit still for several hours. That could be really useful.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Hmm... remote choppers...

    A friend of mine, which owns *several* helicopter models (that's over 10 complete and airworthy, plus enough stuff to build 5 others), claims that one of them can carry up to 100lbs (that's close to 50kg to the rest of mankind) of payload, and he used that to carry a full-size video camera, for some agricultural purposes and terrain recon. So I asked him, what kept him from fitting a paint ball gun, or a real one to the model chopper, and he said "nothing really, don´t you have an spare rifle lying around, do you?" in a very humorous manner...

    On the other hand, some 8 year-olds wouldn´t mind strap themselves to a chopper model and fly around, much to their mom's dismay.... I know I would!

    Then again, the manhack from Half-Life 2 came to my mind too...

  16. Greg Kerr

    Dear Santa

    I want one too!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "PD-100 Black Hornet is optimized for military use" according to their webite.

    In otherwords we're gonna charge a fortune for it. So don't expect this in the gadget shops any time soon.

    Optimised for military you've dropped it from a height of 10 metres to see if it can survive the impact, you've blasted it with high pressure jets of water, you've temperature cycled it from -40 to +125 celcius? You've driven a tank over it and it survived?

    Can a soldier in an NBC suit and thick rubber gloves push the buttons on the touch screen?

    Yeah, yeah, yeah... let's use the word military and that gives us a license to charge whatever we want for it..

  18. Codge
    Black Helicopters

    @Alex Wilson

    > how the hell would you protect someone from one of these?

    Speed < 20mph

    12 bore and a skeet cartridge! Piece of piss at that speed...


    Need you ask?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's more impressive than that.

    >But I have serious doubts about how something that light would handle the slight breezes that occur in some place, you know, like outside!

    Oh it can, there's another video of one of these things in turbulence tests and the stability augmentation it uses is incredible.

    To be honest it's the electronics pack that's the secret sauce rather than the servos; 3 gyros, 3 accelerometers, baro and pitot, range finder, video downlink. It's spectacular.

  20. Kevin

    @Tim Spence

    same exact thing I thought when I saw the video

    Must get would be the ideal replacement to my micro helicopter that looks likea complete pile of shit next to this

    and as someone said the small size of this would probably have issues dealing with a breeze or a draft. From experience I know my micro RC will go nuts if it hits a good draft and usually crash in a split second due to its rotors tiny size (which look almost exactly the same as the one in the video) and lack of weight.

  21. Christoph

    Useful for local councils

    This would be really useful to local councils to spy into the homes of anyone suspected of having once dropped a fag packet.

    And then the night shift can 'accidentally' have it peer through the bedroom windows.

  22. Brandon

    @how much i want one

    I have good news for you... you can have one!!!

    Combine these 2 products, and there you have it.

    Walkera 4#3 + range video = what they have there.

    check out and do an ebay or youtube search for "walkera 4#3"... I've built FPV rigs for small airplanes and helicopters just a bit bigger than that one.

  23. Pablo
    Thumb Up

    I want one

    All the fun of owning the latest military hardware without the guilty conscience that comes with nukes and murmurous killdozers.

  24. Aldous

    simple protection

    close the door

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Without some form of active system to compensate for drafts, any little helicopter like that isn't going to fare well outside at all. In any breeze you wouldn't be able to keep it stable.

    The comment made AC about electronics pack being the crux of it has to be right.

    Use accelerometers to detect what's happening to the aircraft, and then using a negative feedback system control the blades and whatever actuators there are to keep it stable.

    Minaturising the sensors and electronics and keeping the weight down is the salient achievement in this.

  26. John Smith Gold badge

    AC@16:46, AC@18:32


    "what kept him from fitting a paint ball gun, or a real one to the model chopper"

    A couple of things spring to mind. The recoil shock springs to mind. Likely substantial for such a smallish carrier. Coupled to that is the sighting problems. You'll be wanting some kind of camera loking down them and you'll want them to retain accuracy between shots.


    "To be honest it's the electronics pack that's the secret sauce rather than the servos."

    This sounds like a complete 3 axis IMU and autopilot. in 50-100g? Which is impressive. However there are substantial markets for IMU components already and several exist (But the ones from Crossbow in the US you can't get them through ITAR). Modern micro controllers have sufficient capacity left over and a design open enough to host at least basic autopilot functions. The 0.5g servos actually generates mechanical force and enables motion. That size makes it a *potential* key enabler of very small robot gizmos in general, not just aircraft/copters.

    Very impressive but I'm expecting big milspec price tags on this.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stewart Haywood

    "I wonder if it can stop engines and sit still for several hours. That could be really useful."

    Great point. I know this thing would not be appropriate in a lot of situations, but I imagine it would be ideal in some scenarios. No mention was made of landing and waiting but if it could do that imagine the recon possibilities.

  28. paulc
    Black Helicopters

    anti-helicopter guns...

    now every office is going to need motion tracking anti-helicopter guns...

    I've already started by fitting a webcam to a USB controlled nerf gun... just need to write the target recognition and tracking software...

  29. Dave Walker
    Black Helicopters

    I though the video was rather unconvincing

    It had an air of CGI composited over live action - take another look at it

    I may be wrong, but I'm still unconvinced

  30. Anonymous John


    How would it stand up to a squirt from the fire extinguisher?

  31. b
    Thumb Up

    well cool!

    ehehe, reminds me of a hover-fly. ever seen a hover-fly come into your house and check your place out?!

    wonder why nobody's ever made a tv doc about the hover fly?

    anyway, this shold help with urban clearance, unless you american, then you can just chuck grenades into the room, women & children or not, ala haditha..^^



    p.s. stuff and nonsense:

  32. ian
    Black Helicopters

    So disappointing

    If the black helicopters come for me, I want them to be full-sized! Theres no respect in having a toy black helicopter come for you, with its whiny mosquito-like drone.

    So does this one carry a tiny chin-mounted cannon?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    i haven't seen the obligatory

    Are you happy to see me or is that a helicopter (or three) in your pocket?

  34. Maty

    Checking around indoors ...

    Has been done. Some tech mag had an article about this engineer who did a lot of work in Japan, so he arranged for a indoor heli that worked off the net. So when he went east he'd VPN to his heli, and fire up its video. Then fly around his house on the US west coast and make sure that the doors and windows were okay and that the cat was eating properly. Then park it on the recharger. Sounds like the guy had too much time on his hands, but the gadget was way cool.

  35. Damien Thorn


    1 computer server, 5 Lockheed C-130 Hercules filled to the top with these 100mm craft.

    Each craft with a few drops of chlorophorm.

    Each soldier can release one into enemy buildings, as soon as the enemy destroys it soldier knows enemy position.

    Anyhow you try shooting 50m of the bloody things falling out of the sky with chlorophorm, doing so would create sleepy time. Hence the ant principal, use hugh numbers and you could take out an entire army division, without a single death. (or swap camera for a bullet and trigger) "death from above" cant remember the game think is command and conquer.

    But it would be quicker and cheaper for a "murdoc" to simply fly over the enemy and smash a bottle of chlorophorm on there position, but still we need bots to do it - more fun.

  36. Matthew
    Thumb Up

    I want one

    so much

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strap in or strap on?

    Sounds to me like they've made what I've been wanting to do with mine for about a year. Strap a Wii-mote to the bottom of an RC helicopter and do the necessary wiriing. It shouldn't even be too complex - provide a feedback look between each servo and gyro, with enough tuning you get it to balance itself out.

    As for the "it'll never stand up in a breeze". What do you think it experiences at 20mph in calm conditions?

  38. Charles Manning

    @John Smith: IMU is cheap and light

    Head on over to to check out gyros etc. MEMS has come a long way in the last few years.

    You'll get change from $100 and 15 grams for a dual axis gyro, triple axis accelerometer and enough microcontroller to do all the IMU calcs and drive the servos.

    The electronics ain't the secret sauce... it's the software.

    The military are getting to understand that milspec isn't everything. Build 'em cheap and treat them like Kleenex. That's why a grunt gets a pack of three rather than just one.

  39. elderlybloke

    secret sauce

    Is that similar to tomato sauce?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Small size - not a problem

    To all those commenting about the small size being a problem to outdoor operation; I don't think this will be the case. Think about insects; these are much smaller, with similar or lower airspeeds, but still manage to operate for much of the year. Obviously this won't be operational in a hurricane, but for many conditions not a problem, particularly in urban areas where terrain is broken up and wind speeds are reduced (excepting the odd gust). The purpose of this device is surveillance, not really required in open ground, but really handy if you want to buzz down an alley to check for an ambush. With 30 min battery you could get an awful lot of intel about an area before going in.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    So it is a sub micro helicopter

    Like one of the £100 toys from specialist shops rather then the £15 PicoZ thingies? But with a 30 minute battery life instead of ~10, a camera and some better auto piloting stuff.

    If you want one google "sub micro helicopter".

  42. Ian Ferguson

    Great, but

    Will they have a pink penis-shaped version for the Russians?

  43. Dale


    When will we see those on IWOOT? Because IWOOT!

  44. jeffrey

    I give only a couple of years

    I give only a couple of years until walkera have hacked apart the software and put it on their helicopter range

    Lose the camera and GPS, but use the software these guys have developed to make an easy to fly 6 channel rc heli. It would make the proper rc helis much easier to learn to fly on as you could continually dial down the stabilisation software until you were a great flyer. I.E start with the heli doing almost everything, until you do it all and the heli software is turned off,

    Having said that for 400 sized helis (around 40cm) there are several diy arduino/sparkfun autopilots available that can help fly a helicopter hands off

  45. Anonymous Coward

    New Use

    If only this thing could take your fingerprints and compare them to those on a database.

    Or send back messages to the controllers about who you were phoning and emailing.

    Our government would snap them up in seconds.

  46. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    @Charles Manning

    "MEMS has come a long way in the last few years."

    My point exactly. Last decades PhD (with Distinction as it was so damm hard) grade MEMS sensor device has become a SparkFun spare part (more or less).

    However while the sensors have made quite a bit of progress (The car industry seems to have been the early adopters but I'll bet orders from Wii and Apple have spurred things a lot) the actuators side of things seems a bit less advanced. Hence my interest in the servos, as I suspect in robotics a lot of stuff is still sized for RC vehicles. A smaller generation of actuators with the kind of forces RC units generate would be a serious enabler to more inventive stuff.

  47. Charles Manning

    @AC re:Small size - not a problem

    Look at insects?

    Sure, but have you ever tried soldering an insect? I suggest opening the windows first!

  48. M

    3 Tiny Choppers?

    Not me, I have a Monster in my Pocket(tm)*

    *May be tiny in real life.

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