SQ 4 multicopter to be unveiled at DSEi 2011

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by a team of engineers from Middlesex University (London, UK) could help soldiers to spot hidden dangers during military operations.

The  SQ-4 UAV — which comes equipped with miniature cameras — is around the diameter of a Frisbee, weighs 230 g, and can reach heights up to 400 ft. It can quietly hover or even perch on objects as its cameras then zoom in on suspicious activity.

Currently, similar systems used in Afghanistan are much more expensive, resulting in fewer being deployed. As the SQ-4 could be made at a fraction of their cost, the researchers believe that many more soldiers could be equipped with them. Existing systems are also usually larger, heavier, and have fixed wings, meaning that they are unable to hover above targets and are more likely to be detected and targeted.

The SQ-4 is controlled by a handheld remote control unit. Goggles provide the wearer with real-time footage from the cameras as well as information such as the latitude and longitude of the vehicle, the distance between the location and the home point, and the direction to home point.

Middlesex robotics expert Stephen Prior, PhD, led the development of the SQ-4 in partnership with BCB International(Cardiff, UK), which makes survival and protective equipment.

The SQ-4 — together with another UAV the team have developed called the HALO — will be unveiled at the Defence & Security Equipment International 2011 (DSEi), at the ExCel London from September 13-16.