Washington: The US is developing a military drone capable of assisting troops while avoiding hostile threats on the ground, such as ambushes and improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
The pilots would be be able to control the vehicles remotely using a smartphone or tablet.
Developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the smartphone-piloted drones could transport cargo to and from the front lines of battle and deliver or pick up troops from out-of-the-way areas.
“The drone aims to provide troops with more practical and accessible alternatives to helicopters, which remain in limited supply in the military,” DARPA programme manager Ashish Bagai said in a statement.
“Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success," Bagai added.
The drones would be designed to take off and land vertically. The unmanned system will be able to take up to 1,360 kg of supplies.
According to DARPA, the cargo drones would be able to land in spaces half the size typically needed by similarly-sized helicopters.