U.S. Developing Hummingbird Drones

Nano Air Vehicle developed by AeroVironment

Nano Air Vehicle developed by AeroVironment

Next time a cute little bird hovers outside your window, it might be spying on you for the U.S. Government. Julie Watson reports on some quite realistic working prototypes currently being tested, for AP:

You’ll never look at hummingbirds the same again.

The Pentagon has poured millions of dollars into the development of tiny drones inspired by biology, each equipped with video and audio equipment that can record sights and sounds.

They could be used to spy, but also to locate people inside earthquake-crumpled buildings and detect hazardous chemical leaks.

The smaller, the better.

Besides the hummingbird, engineers in the growing unmanned aircraft industry are working on drones that look like insects and the helicopter-like maple leaf seed.

Researchers are even exploring ways to implant surveillance and other equipment into an insect as it is undergoing metamorphosis. They want to be able to control the creature.

The devices could end up being used by police officers and firefighters.

Their potential use outside of battle zones, however, is raising questions about privacy and the dangers of the winged creatures buzzing around in the same skies as aircraft…

[continues at AP]

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