As modern warfare continues to shape up during the 21st Century, there has been an enhanced presence of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), with a host of countries led by the United States, Israel and China investing in drone technology.
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Not lagging far behind in its pursuit to replicate the feat in bringing a revolution in future warfare, has been the United Kingdom, who are already set to welcome the arrival of the Protector, SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian drone variants of the lethal MQ-9 Reaper drones in their Royal Armed Forces next year.
Now, what will be a further boost to Britain’s defence capabilities against foreign threats, London has developed a new modern combat drone which has been specially designed to aid the nation’s soldiers in breaching urban defences.
Boasting the ability to navigate indoors within a building or small spaces serving as a potential hideout for enemies, Britain’s ‘i9’ unmanned aerial vehicle is equipped with twin-shotguns.
The i9, which is the country’s first weaponized drone, has the ability to fly in tight spaces and identify targets using artificial intelligence to take them down. However, the one-metre-long drones will be operated by a soldier who will be given the option to take the final call to shoot.
Excl: A shotgun-armed drone that can fly indoors & identify targets using AI has been developed by British military.
The i9 has overcome the “wall suck” problem facing drones flying indoors.
It’ll be used in urban warfare & could be fitted with a rocket or chain gun in future. pic.twitter.com/I6ImnEBHDW
— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) September 29, 2020
Breaching operations are considered to be the most dangerous missions in ground operations, with the troops required to blow open doors before rushing inside.
With these types of combat missions proving to be highly uncertain in nature due to their close proximity, soldiers are needed to make quick decisions to shoot at point-blank-range, leading to the recorded casualties being very high.
Such challenges can be overcome with the help of the six-rotor i9 drones which will limit the physical involvement of the personnel.
According to Defence Editor, Lucy Fisher of Times UK – “Commanders predict that more battles will be fought in densely populated cities, posing additional risk to personnel. It is the UK military’s first weaponized drone to be able to fly inside, using a combination of physics and AI that allows it to overcome “wall suck”, which causes drones with heavy payloads to crash because of the way they displace air in small rooms.”
Another key element of the i9 drone is its usage of a feature called “Machine Vision”, which enables it to identify targets on its own with the help of its video camera field of vision.
The feature draws parallels to an automatically driven car, which identifies road signs and obstacles by recording them using the camera and comparing them to objects in its visual library.
Moreover, according to the defence expert, Kyle Mizokami, the drones can even take out enemy drones while also being very speedy.
“Human beings aren’t the only targets for the i9. The drone can apparently function as a flying “battering ram,” knocking enemy drones out of the sky autonomously. This autonomous capability is important as drones can fly quite fast, faster than a human can manually intercept them with another drone.” said Mizokami, while writing for Popular Mechanics.
According to experts talking to The EurAsian Times, this is a kind of drone that India needed during 26/11 Mumbai attacks were at-least 174 innocent people were killed in terror attacks. Indian forces would have fancied deploying these drones in the two hotels where terrorists were hiding, find them and shoot them down.