Anduril Industries recently unveiled a new, miniature autonomous jet that hunts enemy drones with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
Called the “Roadrunner,” the weapon was developed in response to the growing threat of kamikaze drones.
It has a powerful warhead that resembles a rocket and can reach targets at high-speed, thanks to twin turbojet engines.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is also capable of vertical takeoff and landing, allowing for rapid launch without the need for a long runway.
However, according to the developer, the most unique characteristic of the Roadrunner is its ability to autonomously return home and be reused.
“If there is no need to destroy the target, [the UAV] can simply return to base and land at a pre-designated location for immediate refueling and reuse,” Anduril stated.
In addition to the Roadrunner, the California-based company unveiled the Roadrunner-M – a high-explosive variant of the autonomous jet.
It can bolster ground-based air defense by rapidly identifying, intercepting, and destroying aerial threats that are up to 100 times more expensive.
It acts at the first hint of danger, giving operators more time to assess the target and rules of engagement.
“Roadrunner-M innovations include faster launch and takeoff timing, three times the warhead payload capacity, ten times the one-way effective range, and is three times more maneuverable,” the manufacturer explained.
To increase the mission success rate of the two Roadrunner variants, Anduril developed an automated hangar called the “Nest” for easy transport, maintenance, and launch of the autonomous jets.