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Naval Research Lab Tests Swarm of Stackable CICADA Microdrones

Naval Research Laboratory CICADA MK5 drone weighs only 65 grams and can be stacked for automated dispensing.

Naval Research Laboratory CICADA MK5 drone weighs only 65 grams and can be stacked for automated dispensing.

September 11, 2017 | Source: IEEE Spectrum, spectrum.ieee.org, 25 July 2017, Evan Ackerman

The U.S. Naval Research Lab has been working on its CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) drones since at least 2011. The tiny drones are designed to be carried aloft by other aircraft and dropped, whereupon they’ll use GPS and little fins to glide to within 15 feet of their destination. They can carry a small sensor payload, and they’re designed to be cheap enough that you can use a whole bunch of them all at once. At the Sea Air Space Expo in April 2017, we checked out the latest MK5 CICADA prototypes, along with a new delivery system that’ll launch 32 of them out of a standardized sonobuoy tube all at once.