DARPA in a flap over Nano Hummingbird spy droneby Steven Mostyn - Feb 21 2011, 23:34
Seriously, it's not an early April Fool. Image: AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Sytems/DARPA.
While there’s no doubting the reconnaissance value of military UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), the distinct and imposing physical shapes associated with such cutting-edge devices tend to be more ‘clash’ than ‘blend’ on the battlefield.
That being said, the pictured Nano Hummingbird spy drone might be just what the U.S. Department of Defense needs to deflect enemy attentions while it’s quietly swooping about snapping invaluable intelligence footage from afar.
Developed by the tech boffins at AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems under contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the highly manoeuvrable drone boasts authentic flapping wings, the ability to hover, clockwise and anticlockwise rotation, and can be controlled remotely by a human pilot.
“The historic achievement made by the Nano Hummingbird is an example of the leading-edge innovations introduced and deployed almost routinely by the AeroVironment UAS team,” enthused Tom Herring, senior vice president of Monrovia-based AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Capable of withstanding side-wind gusts of up to five miles per hour and remaining airborne for eight minutes per flight, the little camera-equipped Hummingbird can sustain a speed of 11 miles per hour and is unlikely to attract unwanted attention thanks to a lifelike wingspan of just 6.5 inches.
See it in action by watching the following video (it’s certainly an impressive little thing):