Micro air vehicles, or MAVs, make for a tantalizing option for intelligence and surveillance agencies looking to surreptitiously gather information or deliver surveillance devices without being seen. But MAVs--usually modeled after small birds or insects-- are notoriously unstable in flight and difficult to maneuver in cluttered environments. So the Pentagon is handing out research contracts to make the DoD’s little robotic bugs more stable by making them more bug-like.
High-rise dwellers and office workers might someday see aerial drones join the usual pigeons and other birds perched outside their windows. Stanford University's Biomimetics Laboratory has video footage of tests with fixed-wing drones landing on walls and grappling on with their leg spines, as Botjunkie discovered.
Missile strikes by Predators, Reapers, or other aerial drones usually result in messy explosions on the ground. Now the never-ending but perhaps futile quest to attain zero collateral damage may take another step forward, with a small micro-drone missile that can kill individual targets from afar.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.