U.S. military's newest urban spy drone mimics hummingbird

The Pentagon's newest spy toy is a tiny aircraft for reconnaissance and surveillance use in urban environments. The name? AeroVironment's "Nano Hummingbird."

It's called biomimicry, and it's the concept of developing artificial -- that is, man-made -- things that use nature's fundamentals as the basis for how they function.

The company: Monrovia, Calif.-based AeroVironment.

The product: the "Nano Hummingbird."

The client: the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

AeroVironment announced on Wednesday that it is developing this "nano air vehicle" with help from a DARPA-sponsored research contract with hopes to develop a new class of aircraft for reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in urban environments, indoors or outdoors.

The Nano Hummingbird:

  • Can hover precisely and stably -- even in wind gusts of five miles per hour -- for eight minutes on its own power.
  • It can transition between hovering and a forward trajectory of 11 miles per hour.
  • It can fly through a standard-size doorway.
  • It can fly indoors in "heads-down" mode, for which the pilot operates the aircraft without actually seeing it, using only the live video stream captured by it.
  • Has a bird-shaped body and bird-shaped wings spanning just 6.5 inches. It weighs about two-thirds of an ounce.

The company specializes in UAVs such as this one, also named for members of the Animal Kingdom: Wasp, Raven and Puma.

Here's a video of it in action:

[via Aol News]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com