Russia Made a Snowy Owl Surveillance Drone

Source: Image: Marina Lystseva / TASS

The disguised drone is designed to hide in plain sight while tracking targets and directing fire.

Russia is taking giving a more natural look to its technology by disguising its combat surveillance drone to look like a snowy owl. As reported by The Moscow Times on Tuesday, the owl-shaped drone was unveiled at the Russian Defense Ministry’s annual military expo in Moscow.

It might look like a sleepy bird on the outside, but the unmanned drone packs high technology inside. It’s designed to be difficult to detect while tracking enemy assets. The drone also has a laser that can guide artillery fire and bombs to targets. It weighs about 11 pounds (5 kilograms), so it can be carried by one person, has a flight range of about 12 miles (19.3 kilometers), and can identify targets from 10 meters away.

Some have observed that at 10 meters, whoever it’s following would be able to identify that the drone isn’t a real bird. Especially since a giant glass dome makes up 70 percent of the owl’s face. The drone probably doesn’t flap its wings the way a real owl would.

The “menacing” design developed by the Technopolis Era project is one of a number of bird designs. There is also a falcon drone that can reportedly fly for 40 minutes, covering up to 12.4 miles (20 kilometers).

Multiple countries have been exploring biomimicry for its UAV to develop drones that could potentially hide in plain sight. For instance, a bird-like drone believed to belong to the Somali government once crashed in Mogadishu. China has recon drones that imitate doves, right down to their looks, moves, and flight for domestic surveillance operations.

Disguised drones can fly over areas where normal drones would be easily spotted and shot down. In Russia’s part of Eurasia, indigenous wildlife includes owls, falcons, and eagles.

The stated purpose of these disguised drones is to spot and track tanks and other vehicles, then direct fire to them.

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Buffa started covering video games in 2002, right after the Xbox and GameCube launches. To date, he's killed roughly 734,876 aliens and 2,345,976 zombies. Now he turns his attention towards the next generation, where games like Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3 and Battlefield 4 will make him thank the virtual gods for the opportunity to cover this constantly evolving industry.