Drones first glided into the public imagination in the early 2000s when the US Air Force and the CIA started using school bus-sized Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and airstrikes in the Middle East. These days, the US Army wants something a bit smaller: Pocket-sized drones that soldiers can use in battle zones to see around corners, over hills, or behind trees to aoid ambushes and other surprises.

Ideally, soldiers will be able to launch such a nano-drone quickly, the Army says. “It will send real-time video back to the operator to give them real-time situational awareness of what’s in the immediate vicinity,” says says Phil Cheatham, the deputy branch chief for electronics at the Army’s Maneuvers Center for Excellence (MCOE).

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