It has the body of a racing drone and the mind of a calculated assassin. Meet Elbit Systems’ Lanius: a “drone-based loitering munition” that leverages its top speed of 45 mph and high degrees of maneuverability to rush to a target before exploding.
Lanius is essentially a “suicide drone” with a Swiss Army knife set of skills that can prove especially useful in the urban combat environment. It uses video analytics to determine entry points into a building. It can map the inside of an unknown structure using simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) techniques. Its advanced AI algorithms can identify people and weapons, practically distinguishing between armed combatants and non-combatant civilians with ease.
In a promotional video released by the Israel-based defense company, Lanius is seen arriving at the battlefield aboard a mothership of sorts, given that the micro drone’s own battery supports only seven minutes of flight time.
Though Elbit Systems says that the drone is fully capable of executing a flight profile, takeoff, navigation, and scouting for targets without human intervention, the video shows an operator guiding Lanius toward its target using a remote controller device. In another scene, the drone is pulled from a soldier’s backpack for hand deployment, thus highlighting its versatility.
In the meantime, Elbit is quick to point out that human attack missions with Lanius cannot be conducted without man-in-the-loop approval for fire procedures. “Lanius can carry lethal and non-lethal payloads to eliminate or neutralize the target,” reads the product datasheet. “A dedicated integrated arming mechanism, Electronic Safe and Arm (ESA), allows for safe transition between safe-to-arm-to-safe operational modes.” The company shared a dramatic video show what it can apparently do on the battlefield.
Lanius will operate as part of Elbit’s Legion-X robotic and autonomous combat solution, which allows operators to plan, operate, and manage different types of uncrewed platforms. The company hopes Lanius will perform a broad spectrum of mission profiles for special forces, military, law enforcement, and homeland security.