In partnership with the United Kingdom’s Strategic Command, which supports the Ministry of Defence, an unnamed company has developed a new battle-ready drone to assist armed forces with dangerous ground operations during urban warfare.
Reported by Popular Mechanics (via The Times), the i9 is a human-operated drone that can fly indoors, uses AI to locate and identify targets, and is outfitted with dual shotguns. If reading that makes you feel like we’re living in a 90s science fiction movie, well, I guess we are. Except Arnold is not headed to Mars.
As Popular Mechanics points out, breaching operations—when armed forces storm into a sealed off, enclosed area where enemy forces could be hiding—are one of the most dangerous type of ground operations. Casualties are usually high, especially among soldiers who enter the building first. Sending in a drone first is ideal for these kinds of operations. But hexacopters, or six-bladed drones like the i9, usually have issues with crashing to the ground if they get too close to a wall inside a small room, particularly if they are carrying something heavy, like a shotgun. The wall disrupts the airflow needed to keep the drone flying, which isn’t very useful in breaching operations.
The i9 is the UK’s first drone that can fly indoors while carrying heavy weaponry. The Ministry of Defence also hopes to develop other uses for the i9 as well, such as using it as a battering ram to knock other drones out of the sky and replacing the dual shotguns with either a rocket or chain gun. No, that is not the rambling of a video game designer. That is the desire of the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
Neither Popular Mechanics nor