Nano UAS

Flying binoculars for troops on the move

  • Stable
  • Light weight
  • Portable
  • High quality imaging
  • Maintains operational tempo

Nano UAS

Remote vision on the move

  • A tiny hovering airborne reconnaissance tool
  • Transmits real-time video to a smart phone
  • Designed to be used by troops on patrol
  • Like a remote set of binoculars, it lets troops see what’s happening beyond line of sight
  • Simple to use, with return to base capability, it helps maintain operational tempo


Nano UAS is a tiny hovering airborne reconnaissance tool. It can be launched from the palm of a hand. It transmits live video to a display that is easy to use. It is autonomous so there are no piloting skills required. It can fly for more than 20 minutes and can rapidly acquire tactical situational awareness from half a kilometre away.

A user can remotely monitor an area of interest from the air, out of sight and out of danger. He can make better decisions, take fewer risks and ultimately save lives.

The Nano UAS comprises:

    • Nano UAS Air Vehicle (AV)
    • Nano UAS Ground Control Station (GCS)


The Nano UAS offers soldiers the information they need during operations whilst they remain remote, covert and out of danger:

    • increased situation awareness

    • both visual (EO) and thermal (IR) vision makes it useful round the clock

    • light weight

    • tiny size

    • high capability to burden ratio for a dismounted soldier

    • low cognitive burden for the user, easy to use ground control system

    • stealthy, small size and low noise output when airborne

    • no more waiting; immediate deployment increases operational tempo




Nano UAS is excellent for troops on patrol who need to see what is happening beyond line-of-sight whilst maintain operational tempo. Its light-weight nature is perfect when seeking to reduce the physical burden on today’s soldier.

Despite the system’s light weight, it is a robust and notably stable platform when in the air. Nano UAS has been designed to meet Air Space Regulator’s stipulated vehicle weight allowance. Yet it can still achieve maximum camera stability in typical wind conditions. Key technologies developed over several years deliver a wider operational envelope and more stable video. Mechanically simple design means there is less to go wrong.

Operations are often undertaken at dawn, dusk and at night. The Nano UAS camera has high sensitivity for low-light conditions. At the other extreme, it has excellent video quality when pointing towards the sun. A computer-controlled gimbal corrects for vehicle movement resulting in extremely steady video from Nano UAS.

Nano UAS has been designed to maintain operational tempo. This is crucial for troops on operations. It is simple to launch, control and recover thanks to an easy to use ground control station and on-board autopilot. Simple target destinations can be set for the Nano UAS. Once in position, intuitive controls can modify and control the viewing angle and position of the vehicle. A ‘return to base’ feature means that the Nano UAS is able to return even if the soldier has moved position.

Nano UAS can be used in other scenarios. These include offering first responders an option to scout ahead, link monitor terrain and identify where support is needed. It can also provide emergency services with a remote vision system – allowing them to assess a situation and determine a safe course of action.


The Nano UAS system has many features that make it appropriate for the military NUAS market:

Nano UAS vehicle

The Nano UAS is a light-weight multi-rotor air vehicle and will be in the MAA Class 1(a) RPAS category. Multi-rotors are simple, reliable and are the most stable flight platform in wind. Its acoustic signature is low.


The vehicle is typically deployed in less than 1 minute. Nano UAS is semi-autonomous. The vehicle flies pre-programmed routes. Routes are created by simple point-and-go commands on a touch screen.

Range and positioning

Nano UAS has a flight endurance of more than 20 minutes. There is no need for a user to maintain line-of sight with the vehicle. The on-board control systems manipulate the vehicle to achieve the desired positions.

Vision systems and payload

Nano-UAS carries a visual (EO)  camera and a thermal (IR) camera on a servo-controlled tilt mechanism. Additional lightweight sensing capability can be included.

Carrying in the field

The vehicle is stored and transported in a small, lightweight case, which can be carried in a combat pouch.

Maintenance and Repair

The system is constructed from readily available components that can be swapped out if mechanical failure occurs. The case has been tested for shock vibration and water resistance to 1m.

Swarm Systems

Swarm Systems designs and builds Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for reconnaissance and remote viewing in military applications. Working directly with users, Swarm Systems has developed a mini RPAS known as Nano UAS. It is particularly suited to supporting troops on the move who need real time information about the surrounding area. With Nano UAS, a user can remotely monitor an area of interest from the air, out of sight and out of danger.

Formed in 2007, Swarm Systems is led by Stephen Crampton an entrepreneur with a track-record of pioneering new product-markets and building successful start-ups.

Swarm Systems has established a global supply chain. Subcontract manufacturing is carried out in the UK. Accreditation has been gained to ISO9001:2008.

Stephen Crampton – CEO

Stephen is a serial technology entrepreneur (Engineer, Imperial College London and MBA, INSEAD, France). He has built and sold technology companies in the private sector. One of his teams was the first UK team to win the EU Technology Grand Prize of 200,000 Euro in 1996. Stephen has numerous patents granted in the UK, EU, USA and Japan.

Jonathan Selbie – Director

Jonathan leads the commercial team at Swarm as well as heading some of the engineering development. He has worked in advanced technology development taking projects through from the concept phase to commercial product. He has worked in Motorsport (Formula One), Hi-Tech (medical devices) and Aerospace.

Track record

Swarm Systems has developed the Nano UAS whilst maintaining close contact with a range of military organisations. It has won a significant number of research contracts to deliver innovation in the military Nano UAS market. Our partners include various divisions of the UK MOD, the Infantry Trials and Development Unit (ITDU), the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and a number of key subject matter experts in the field of Nano Unmanned Air Systems (NUAS).

Swarm Systems has received funding through programmes run by these groups and has been invited to share the technology it has developed at various stages of completion. Swarm Systems was also the second bidder for a contract from the UK MOD to procure NUAS. In 2008 Swarm Systems was a winner in the MOD Grand Challenge. The company also won a SMART award for its technology from InnovateUK in 2012.  Since then, Swarm Systems has won MoD contracts in the AMS DE-RISC (2013), ASUR (2014) and Autonomy (2016) competitions. As well as participating in the core MoD programmes for Nano UAS, Swarm Systems has partnered with each of the UK Prime Contractors.

Future prospects

Flying Binoculars Market

Armed forces around the world are estimated to own ~1.2 hand-held binoculars per soldier. For police, fire and home defence services, the ratio is lower at ~0.75. Flying binoculars offer a step change in capability over hand-held.

The British Army was the first to purchase Flying Binoculars – for deployment in Afghanistan. The capability has now been brought into the Ministry of Defence's core equipment programme. Based on the success of that purchase, the initial procurement by an armed force is estimated to be ~0.1 flying binoculars per soldier. Subsequent procurement is predicted to grow towards penetration rates associated with hand-held binoculars.


Swarm Market

The West’s involvement in foreign conflicts is reducing. When intervention is sanctioned, it is typically in the form of air strikes or training. There are fewer boots on the ground.

Swarm Systems believes that in the future, swarms of Nano UAS may offer an effective alternative to boots on the ground. If swarming fulfils some of its promise, transport aircraft could release swarms of up to 8,000 air vehicles over a conflict zone in one drop. Each vehicle is autonomous and individually tasked but they work collaboratively to gather intelligence, project power and solve real world problems.

Recently, a book was published that speculates on some of the future capabilities for swarming: ‘Swarm Troopers’ by David Hambling, a leading technology journalist and author.

Swarm Systems was founded to pioneer the market for swarms of military air vehicles. It received its first research contract ‘Autonomous Hovering MAV Swarm’ in 2008 and has been researching swarming ever since. Products do not exist yet, but through the choice of its company name and its strategy, it is positioning itself to be a major player in the future of swarming UAS.


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