Small Bird-Shaped Drone Crashes In Mogadishu

Unmanned avian vehicle

Bird Drone

Bird Drone

For free: bird drone. Heavily used.Sawirro

A bird-shaped robot crashed in Mogadishu earlier this week. It was covered in dirt and grime, with signs of heavy wear, shoddy construction, or both. The bird-bodied drone looked tired, if it’s possible for a machine to look tired. In that weary, mechanical body, we glimpse the art of hiding robots in plain sight.

Within hours, observers on Twitter noted that the crashed bird-drone looked a lot like a prototype floated by the U.S. Air Force Research Lab in 2010, though the existence of a U.S. prototype doesn't mean all future designs are derived from it. (There are plenty of bird-shaped model airplanes, too)

The Verge writes:

Local reports associate this drone, which came down on May 1st, with Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA). It's unclear exactly how it was downed, or if similar drones have been used in the country before. What’s most interesting about this particular drone are its wings: in addition to looking like a bird, the wings will flap, although it looks like it’s actually powered by two sets of propellers. A quick glance at it flying overhead likely won’t attract a lot of attention, which is exactly what you’d want for a surveillance robot.

From afar, there are no more secrets this weary robot can tell us. Was it a spy? For whom was it spying? We may know the answers, in time (and with more local reporting). For now, we have a mysterious robot, with a new-yet-familiar body, and a mystery in its sleeping circuits.