Small Bird-Shaped Drone Crashes In Mogadishu

Unmanned avian vehicle

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:

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.

Kelsey D. Atherton
Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Atherton is a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.