A company called AeroVironment has been working for DARPA, and has made a tiny little ornithopter. Unlike this human-powered one, this guy isn’t human-powered. In fact, it’s designed to specifically have little to no human interaction. It’s being built, presumably, to be a spy. A tiny, stealthy, avian spy. Check it out.
It’s flyin in yo windows, it’s snatchin yo peepo up.
It’s so new that it’s still not on AeroVironment’s webpage for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
There are a few cool things that went into making this. First, it carries its own power source. That means two things: first, it’s mobile and wireless; second, it has to use very little power, or its battery will drain very fast and it will be useless. Right now, they’ve only got it up to about 11 minutes at most. (Which is not bad, but probably not good enough for extremely useful missions.)
Second, it’s an ornithopter. It’s only got the two wings, and has to use those for every maneuver it can do. And still, the engineers found a way for what they call the Nano Hummingbird to rotate both directions, fly up and down, left and right, and forward and backward.
Third, it was designed to mimic the appearance of a hummingbird. Which means it can make a great spy. (No comment on how loud it is; the video is pretty quiet.) If you weren’t paying attention, one of these outside your house wouldn’t seem too out of place. In fact, the guy in the video for this BBC news article on the Nano Hummingbird makes mention of “civilian surveillance.” Spooky.
Just imagine one of these being able to fly around on its own, doing missions. With AI going the way it is (see: Watson’s problem solving skills, and the quadrotor’s autonomous navigation and flight capabilities) it can’t be that far out. One of these guys could be in front of your window right now.
Read what I read:
- The BBC news article I already linked you to
- Robotics Wire article on the Nano Hummingbird
- Kurzweil AI article on it. A couple videos on this too
- The AeroVironment website. Some cool things to look at under “solutions.”