Black Widow was the world’s first operating MAV System. Weighing in at only three ounces and measuring six inches across, the Black Widow was developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At the conclusion of this work, Black Widow was able to demonstrate automatic launch from a protective carrying cassette, followed by a flight of over 30 minutes, with a range of 1.8 km at altitudes up to 800 ft.
The payload comprised a color video camera and downlink and included other stability augmentation and flight data sensors. In recognition of this work DARPA presented AeroVironment with its prestigious Award for Outstanding Performance by a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contractor, in June 1999. The Black Widow team also accepted the 1999 Shephard’s Press, Unmanned Vehicles Magazine Readership Design Award in Paris, France.