The Airborne Remotely Operated Device (AROD) was a small ducted fan vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) air vehicle that could easily translate through the air and provide short range aerial surveillance. The AROD project was initiated at the Hawaii detachment of SSC San Diego as part of the US Marine Corps Exploratory Development (6.2) Surveillance Program in the early 1980s, and was continued as part of the Ground Air Telerobotics Systems (GATERS) Advanced Technology Demonstration (6.3A) program through the later 1980s together with the ground-based Teloperated Vehicle (TOV).
The first generation AROD vehicle, developed by Moller as a subcontractor to Perceptronics, was electrically powered, with power supplied through a tether from the ground station, and was easily small enough to be carried by one person. The second generation vehicles, developed by Sandia, were much larger and powered by a 26-horsepower, two-stroke gasoline engine, driving a single lifting propeller. Servo driven vanes located at the bottom of AROD controlled vehicle attitude, allowing hover, multi-directional translation, and rotation about its vertical axis. An automatic control system helped maintain vehicle stability. A fiber optic cable provided a communications to a small Ground Control Unit, with a radio link as backup. A 5 km spool of optical fiber was carried aboard AROD to support a 2 km round trip or 5 km one-way mission.
A three-degree-of-freedom joystick on the Ground Control Unit controlled forward and side pitch, and rotation. A thumbwheel on the stick controlled altitude. As with the TOV, a head-mounted display unit provided stereo vision to the operator. Head coupling allowed the operator to aim the two on-board stereo cameras using head movements.
Although the vehicle was successully tested in free flight, instability in flight prevented it from ever realizing its full range, and AROD development was discontinued when funding limitations forced the GATERS program to focus on the TOV.