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IPhone app controls drone flying 3,000 miles away

Boeing and MIT workers develop an iPhone application that in the future may help soldiers on the battlefield.

September 28, 2011|By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Military mobile apps may one day help soldiers on the battlefield.

Engineers and researchers at Boeing Co. and MIT have developed an iPhone application to fly a miniature drone rotorcraft from some 3,000 miles away.

It just takes a few taps and swipes of the operator's finger in Seattle to make a drone at a baseball field on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., start to hover, rotate and zip around.

"These applications could allow [drones] to be used more effectively for tasks that are dirty or dangerous, as well as for missions that may be too long and tedious to have a human be continuously at the controls," the company said on its website.

The Pentagon is testing all manner of smart devices, including iPhones and iPads, for action in war zones. It has kicked off a race among software companies and defense firms to develop innovative apps for future soldiers to operate.

william.hennigan@latimes.com

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