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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The number of countries with military drones has skyrocketed over the past decade, a new report revealed, showing that nearly 100 countries have this kind of technology incorporated into their armed forces.
In 2010, around 60 countries had drones, but that number has since jumped to 95, a report from Bard College's Center for the Study of the Drone revealed. Dan Gettinger, the report's author, identified 171 different types of unmanned aerial vehicles in active inventories. Around the world, there are at least 21,000 drones in service, but the number may actually be significantly higher.
There are well over 200 military drone units operational in 58 different countries.
The South China Morning Post reported on July 23rd that the Chinese Academy of Sciences is pursuing designs for a fleet of unmanned autonomous underwater submarines. These submersibles would be able to take on a docket of missions, from whale tracking to anti-carrier kamikaze ops. And the ace up China's sleeve to make this a reality is artificial intelligence.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, often referred to as the mad science wing of the Pentagon, announced on May 9 that it plans on debuting its revolutionary Gremlin Unmanned Aerial System sometime in 2019. And much like the carrier classic military science fiction franchise StarCraft, defense contractor Dynetics designed the Gremlin to launch and recover from a flying mothership — in the case of the U.S. military, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
Russian engineers have designed munitions specifically for the nation’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fleets, according to RIA-Novosti news agency. The weapon’s combat weight is up to fifty kilograms (110lb). In effect, Russians have built precision-guided weapons for their UAVs. According to RIA, the developers are designating these weapons as “air-borne delivery vehicles.” This family of missiles is weighing fifteen, twenty-five, fifty and one hundred kilograms, and is intended for warhead delivery of up to fifty kilograms for a range of twelve to twenty kilometers (seven to thirteen miles) in the “glide mode,” and up to one hundred kilometers (sixty-two miles) when powered by the engine.
The future is here, and with it comes a potential replacement for combat troops: badass unmanned aerial vehicles that drop ordnance and take out enemy targets with a delightful arsenal of built-in armaments. Now, one company wants to to eliminate the need for boots on the ground altogether
The Army Research Laboratory is exploring a number of new autonomous vehicle, but none are quite as silly — or as potentially useful — as this new drone modeled after a flying squirrel. Why? You may ask. Because it can transform mid-flight.