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

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

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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]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure