Air Force developing tiny drones disguised as birds, bugs

By Jonathan Terbush
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 12:07 EDT
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Tiny dragonfly-like vehicle, via the AFRL
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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Actually, it’s sort of both.

As Wired’s Spencer Ackerman reported Tuesday, the Air Force is working on a new line of miniature espionage drones designed to look — and move — like birds, bugs, and other flying creatures.

At a “micro-aviary” at  Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, researchers are testing models based on critters as small as hummingbirds and dragonflies. Using motion capture sensors, they’re are able to track vehicles’ movements within a tenth of an inch, according to Greg Parker, one of the lab’s researchers.

By charting those minute movements, they then hope to design, “very, very small flapping-wing vehicles” that could easily pass for the real life creatures, making them invaluable spy tools.

Check out the video from the Air Force Research Laboratory below:

Jonathan Terbush
Jonathan Terbush
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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