Since production of the AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven began in 2004, more than 13 000 units have been built. These small hand-launched remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle or SUAV were originally developed for the US military but have now been adopted by several other countries.
The Raven is now widely used by the US military for reconnaissance, scouting, surveillance, and target acquisition purposes both day and night. It can fly for about 60-90 minutes in an operational radius of 10 km (6 miles). The Raven can either be remote-controlled from the ground or fly autonomous missions using GPS waypoint navigation. Its small 1.9 kg (4.2 pounds) airframe usually harnesses CCD color video cameras and infrared night vision camera. The aircraft is powered by a small propeller located at the back of the wings.
Landing for the RQ-11B is not a problem as it can automatically fly itself to a predetermined landing point and perform a near vertical (1 foot down, 1 foot forward) "Autoland" descent. If its wings snap or break off on landing, a new one can easily be attached.