US military developing insect surveillance drones
File photo shows an insect-sized spy drone.
Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:58PM GMT
Reports indicate the US military has poured huge sums of money into surveillance drone miniaturization and is developing micro aircraft which now come in a swarm of bug-sized flying spies.
According to various internet sources, a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Arlington, Virginia, is helping develop what they are calling a micro aerial vehicle (MAV) that will undertake various espionage tasks.
The robotic insect can effortlessly infiltrate urban areas, where dense concentrations of buildings and people, along with unpredictable winds and other obstacles make it impractical.
It can be controlled from a great distance and is equipped with a camera and a built-in microphone.
The new device has the capability to land precisely on human skin, use its super-micron sized needle to take DNA samples and fly off again at speed. All people feel is the pain of a mosquito bite without the burning sensation and the swelling of course.
The hard-to-detect surveillance drone can also inject a micro radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking device right under skin, and can be used to inject toxins into enemies during wars.
As early as in 2007, the US government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies when anti-war protesters in the United States saw some flying objects similar to dragonflies or little helicopters hovering above them.
The US is not alone in miniaturizing drones that imitate nature: France, the Netherlands and Israel are also developing similar devices.
France has developed flapping wing bio-inspired micro drones. The Netherlands BioMAV (Biologically Inspired AI for Micro Aerial Vehicles) has also built Parrot AR drones.
Meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has produced a butterfly-shaped drone, weighing just 20 grams, which can gather intelligence inside buildings.
The insect drone, with its 0.15-gram camera and memory card, is managed remotely with a special helmet. Putting on the helmet, the operator finds themselves in the “butterfly’s cockpit” and virtually sees what the butterfly sees in real time.