Naval Research Laboratory to test swarming palm-sized drones

Imagine a fleet of drones, each the size of your palm blooming from a package dropped from an airplane. That's what the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's tiny CICADA drone can do through upcoming swarm flight testing.

Imagine a fleet of drones, each the size of your palm blooming from a package dropped from an airplane. That's what the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's tiny CICADA drone can do through upcoming swarm flight testing.

The Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) has pressure, temperature, and humidity sensors on board, and consists basically of a circuit board with tiny wings and autopilot controls built-in. It weighs less than three ounces, and drops at around 1,000 feet per minute according to the official specs.

One of the launch tubes that carry the CICADAs holds 32 individual drones, and the tube is designed to be dropped from a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion airplane. The CICADAs deploy from the tube once it's released from the aircraft, and fly on to their target, where they can land with accuracy of around 50 square feet.

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