Two researchers working for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have come up with a drone design that shoots out of a 40mm grenade launcher.
On Thursday, the Army's patent application for the GLUAS (grenade launched unmanned aerial system) was made public for the first time.
In the document, inventors Hao Kang and John Gerdes describe a compact, battery-powered UAV that deploys a folding blade propeller and a paraglider wing made of mylar.
"Although the teachings disclosed herein can be adapted to any grenade launcher, in some embodiments, the grenade launcher is a 40mm launcher. In some embodiments, the grenade launcher is an M79, M203, or MK-19 launcher," the document states.
It's not clear if a prototype has been built, the patent application only includes conceptual drawings, but it also includes specific details indicating maybe it has, like that the GLUAS has a 2-kilometer range, a 2,000-foot operating ceiling, and 30 to 90-minute battery life.
And the Army, albeit at a different research lab, has successfully prototyped a 40mm-launched counter-drone net.
The new patent application also says it's designed for reconnaissance, i.e., it's a camera drone and not a loitering munition like the Australian-made DefendTex Drone-40, a bomb-carrying quadcopter also packaged as a 40mm cartridge.
"In some situations (e.g., combat zones, hazardous environments and the like), personnel may benefit from obtaining ISR data to assess a situation or gather intelligence. The inventors have discovered that current unmanned aerial vehicles are subject to a highly limiting tradeoff between size and endurance," the GLUAS patent application states.
With the intellectual property filed, the Army invention has become a "Tech Transfer" business opportunity.
TechLink, the Department of Defense's national partnership intermediary for technology transfer, helps businesses interested in productizing DOD inventions to learn more about patent licensing.
Through technology transfer, the technical details of DOD technologies are given to businesses for product development.
"I'm in contact with the lab and am here to help companies get more information for evaluating the technology and navigate the licensing process," said Brian Metzger, senior technology manager at TechLink who works directly with the Army Research Laboratory.
Contact Brian Metzger at email@example.com or 406-994-7782.