Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2006 Andreas Parsch

Naval Research Lab Spider

The Spider (Scientific Payload Insertion Device Electric Rotor) UAV was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in 2004/2005 as a very low-cost (to be economically expendable) autonomous unmanned mini-helicopter for the delivery of small sensor payloads to inaccessible areas. Flight testing of a prototype vehicle began in June 2004.

Photo: NRL

The Spider is powered by an electric motor, and is controlled by an autopilot with a neural network adaptive flight control system. It can complete fully autonomous missions including vertical take-off, flight to the designated target using GPS, hover over a precise location, and return to an automatic landing. The UAV can carry a 1.8 kg (4 lb) payload of scientific or countermeasures devices in the fuselage between the landing skids. Spider's maximum endurance is about 30 minutes, and it is also equipped with an Iridium satellite data link for beyond RF line-of-sight operations.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Spider:

Rotor diameter?
Weight18 kg (40 lb)
Speed80 km/h (50 mph)
Endurance30 min.
PropulsionElectric motor

Main Sources

[1] NRL UAV Fact Sheets
[2] NRL Develops Fully Autonomous Compact Electric Helicopter, NRL Press Release, 6 September 2005

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 7 February 2006