Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense technology company, has released a deadly, self-destructive drone. The Lanius is a quick racing quad with a variety of AI-powered spying, mapping, and target categorization capabilities as well as the capacity to detonate when called upon.
Quadcopter drones are becoming common in modern combat, as the situation in Ukraine shows. It’s simple to understand why; they are affordable, simple to use, and ever-improving. They often travel completely unnoticed by enemies, they allow you to map out risky areas without endangering the pilot, and it’s astonishingly easy to attach and/or unleash a devastating payload.
The Lanius is made to travel in three-person groups while perched atop a larger mothership-style drone until it is needed. Its maximum takeoff weight is 1.25 kg (2.76 lb), which includes a payload of up to 150 g that may be lethal or non-lethal (5.3 oz). It can fly for a maximum of seven minutes on a small hobby-style lithium battery.
The Lanius is equipped with multiple sensors and cameras, as well as an Nvidia Jetson AI system-on-module made expressly for quick interpretation of fast-flowing data streams with little energy usage, on top of a straightforward, boxy-looking carbon fibre racing drone chassis. For multi-drone autonomous operations, it connects to Elbit’s own Legion-X battle swarm management software.
The Lanius is intended to enter a space, either alone or as part of a swarm, and start independently mapping it out using its AI capabilities and collision avoidance technologies. It can enter buildings and search them with or without guidance from a human pilot. It can identify and mark points of interest as well as objects like closed or open doors and windows.
It is made to identify people and try to categorize them as friendly, hostile, combatant, non-combatant, or unarmed. It gives its human operator the option to “engage” the target with whatever weapons are on board when it detects an armed threat. Because a human is constantly involved, this object will never intentionally try to kill someone.
Another tactical benefit is the ability to observe a specific location while in ambush mode, such as a locked door that might have hostile threats on the opposite side. The Lanius can land silently in this situation and keep an eye on the door. If the door opens and something is detected that it determines to be an armed threat, it will notify the remote operator and once more provide the option to engage. That might most definitely be a useful approach to keep an eye on a team’s flanks or back as it moves through a hazardous location.
Given how swiftly quadcopter drones and deep-learning technology have progressed over the past ten years, it’s possible that it’s now quite slow and clumsy, but you can expect that these robots will advance quickly in the years to come. Watch the dramatic footage down below.