A Silicone Valley defense contractor (yep) says it’s come up with a relatively inexpensive high-speed jet drone to counteract the drone swarms that are reshaping war half a world away. Both Ukraine and Russia are becoming increasingly reliant on pilotless kamikaze drones that can loiter invisibly for hours and pounce on unsuspecting targets with high explosive payloads. The hunter becomes the hunted when Anduril’s new Roadrunner is on station. It will use artificial intelligence to identify targets, but a person will pull the trigger to destroy them. “Our driving belief is that there has to be human agency for identifying and classifying a threat, and there has to be human accountability for any action that gets taken against that threat,” Christian Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril, told Wired.

Functionally, the drone borrows an idea from an interesting but wholly impractical aircraft developed in the early 1950s, the Convair XFY-1 Pogo. The Pogo was designed to take off and land vertically from its crisscrossed tail and although it did that (precariously) it really couldn’t do much else. The patio-heater-sized Anduril blasts out of its own self-contained hangar that looks like a portable toilet. It can then fly at high subsonic speeds to the operation area and hunt for enemy drones. If it doesn’t find any, it can fly back to the tiny hanger and land vertically through the top hatch.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. While interesting, an impractical system for killing swarms or lone quadcopters as used in the Ukrainian conflict.

    One needs a less expensive solution for swarms: An anti-drone that can kill multiple drones and return to base: A flying shotgun or net thrower if you will.

  2. I like that the video ends with a shot of an actual bird, just to remind us what is a road runner. That cartoon has been off the air for a while now.

  3. Uh, “Silicone” Valley? I think that is the N LA basin around Hollywood. “Silicon” Valley is the SW San Francisco Bay area.

    All kidding aside, I think before one assumes that it can only take out one drone one might need to see the actual test results. I would not be surprised to find it can do a number on multiple drones concurrently, perhaps serially but rapidly. It may be “smart” enough to choose a flight-path vector that allows it to shoot down several in a single pass, and continue making passes until it is out of ammo or the threat is neutralized.

    So, if it shoots down 5 drones, do we make the AI or the pilot an ace?

  4. I think one should have a certain “skin in the game” to qualify as an “ace”, but I don’t know how much standards have been eroded.

    Roadrunner sheds its landing fins on takeoff, only to have them deploy on landing? But it seems to work, unlike non-contextual spell-checkers, which have a real problem with homonyms. At least we know that these reports aren’t being filed by ChatGPT … 😉

  5. “The patio-heater-sized Anduril blasts out of its own self-contained hangar that looks like a portable toilet”
    Perhaps we’ll see one of these hangars in the parking lots at AirVenture?