By Joshua SaulPosted 05.20.2011 at 11:03 am 7 Comments
In 2006, Darpa, the Department of Defense's R&D arm, commissioned AeroVironment, a company specializing in remote aircraft, to create an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) small enough to fly through an open window. AeroVironment had already built the 4.5-foot-wingspan Raven, which first saw combat over Afghanistan in 2003, but making a UAV so much smaller took five years and 300 different wing designs.
A year and a half ago, we saw our first look at DARPA's hummingbird drone, a teeny robotic spyplane inspired by the mid-air dexterity of the hummingbird. But now we've got a video of the drone in action, much more capable and with the ability to do its acrobatics for much longer.
Biomimicry isn't new, nor are robotic hummingbirds, but the latest 'bot to come out of Chiba University in Japan makes even the DARPA-inspired Nano Air Vehicle -- which is very cool, needless to say -- look like last year's robotics.
A few years from now, bird-watchers may be in for a double take: that flapping creature in the distance? Nope, not a bird. Mutant dragon fly? Nope--it's Darpa's latest unmanned aerial robo-sentinel, inspired by the flight mechanics of birds.
New studies on bats and bluegill sunfish add to scientists' knowledge of a rare and enviable trait
By Matt RansfordPosted 03.04.2008 at 2:51 pm 2 Comments
The hummingbird is an animal that by all rights shouldn't be able to fly. Its wing movements are not at all like that of other birds. But not only can they fly, they're so good at it that they're the only species which can fly backward. They're also one of the few—but not the only—that can hover. And in the past week alone, two new studies on hovering animals have been made public. One is on bats and the others on the bluegill sunfish.