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.
The drone, built by AeroVironment with funding from DARPA, is able to fly forwards, backwards, and sideways, as well as rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. Not only does the 'bot resemble its avian inspiration in size (it's only slightly larger than a hummingbird, with a 6.5-inch wingspan and a weight of 19 grams), it also looks impressively like a hummingbird in flight. That's not vanity--it's key to the drone's use as a spy device, as it can perch near its subject without alerting it (supposing that area has a population of hummingbirds--the usual reaction to seeing a hummingbird here in midtown Manhattan is something like "OMG you guys look at the hummingbird!!!!!!," which is not necessarily an ideal situation for a spy-drone).
The drone can currently fly for about eight minutes, impressive considering that range was only 20 seconds a short two years ago. But the engineers aren't satisfied, branding the current drone a prototype and continuing to work on it. Within a decade, says AeroVironment's project manager, this drone could easily be counted on to carry out complex and difficult reconnaissance missions.
[via L.A. Times]
I want one.
The motion of the bird through the air is excellent. On the other hand, from what I can see in the video, its wings do not flap nearly fast enough. The problem may be the frame rate from the camera but if it is not then they should be sped up.
You are absolutely right. How stupid of DARPA to make the wings flap so slowly. Just think how well it would fly if the wings flapped!
Are you guys being serious? That bird would not be flying if the wings were traveling that slow. It is a similar effect to what you see in a spinning airplane propeller, or the camera, or a combination of both.
Reminds me of a scene from the movie "Dune" with the flying bug with a stinger trying to kill the main character Paul. I get the feeling one day one of these things will buzz my patio. What the heck do you swat it with? An iron skillet or an EMP?
Guy:Hey look it,s superman no its a plane no its a robot bird OW. guess what happened to the Guy?
Hummingbirds spend most of their time looking for food because they expend so much energy staying in the air; it's pretty inefficient. I suspect this little guy will be no different.
@ Musicman: This little guy has a bunny inside that will keep re-energizing it. ;)
God, I hate SO MANY CAPTCHAS!! can we stick with one only?!
don't type in the captcha when you hit preview, only the second one is required to post
that is bad ass, i want one. darpa has all the fun
I'm glad to see this new technology finally getting developed. Over 11 years ago I registered 2 domain names, NanoSpy and SpyBugs, both dotcoms. I've yet to make a buck on either one so if anyone has any ideas please let me know. They both are for sale but to be honest I have no idea on how much to ask.