In August, US Army troops in Afghanistan deployed a new reconnaissance tool: palm-size drones that weigh just over an ounce. The Black Hornet remote-control micro-copters stream hi-def video and photos, and their diminutive dimensions—and ability to fly without a GPS signal—make them especially adept at ducking into buildings, bunkers, and caves. FLIR developed a proprietary composite to minimize weight without sacrificing durability, so the wee spies can fly in 15-knot wind, remain airborne 25 minutes, and venture as far as 1.5 miles on a charge. Thanks to a revamped rotor design and flight control software that works much like an autopilot, the Black Hornet is unusually easy to fly using a tablet and a pistol-grip-style controller. Soldiers carry one version for daytime use and another equipped with a thermal camera for low-light conditions. Learning to maneuver them takes just minutes, quickly (and dramatically) increasing a squad’s situational awareness.