This week, news broke of Palmer Luckey’s new battering-ram drone system, and today, the company finally released footage of the drone in action. The new footage shows Anduril’s system taking down both a fixed wing drone and an opposing quadcopter, which looks to be a knock-off of the DJI Phantom.
The drone (dubbed “Anvil”) is designed to take out enemies from below, with the battery and motors optimized for short, fast flights. It’s also designed to take the impact and survive: the rotors are on the bottom, and all of the flight-critical components are positioned as low as possible. So even if some of the more delicate equipment is damaged, the Anvil should be able to land in one piece.
None of this will do much to reassure concerns about Anduril’s border project, which many saw as a nightmare of Trump-era automated surveillance. But Anvil is designed for use by the military rather than border agencies, and it’s not clear if it would be much use at the border. Based on the vertical angle of attack — which is essential to the drone’s layout — it’s also hard to imagine the system being very effective against a human being.
Functionally, the biggest concern is that Anvil will sustain too much damage with each impact, making it too expensive to work as a long-term countermeasure. But rogue quadcopters are a newly plausible threat for the military, and there aren’t many solutions that don’t involve large-scale jamming emplacements. If Anvil can make a case that it’s the best option, it could make a lot more sense than the company’s border-vision plans.
Update 4:22PM ET: Updated with a more condensed version of the video.