Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pocket-sized 'hummingbird' drone aims to flutter into enemy territory

A pocket-size drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird for the way it flaps its tiny robotic wings has been developed for the Pentagon by a Monrovia, Calif., company as a mini-spy plane capable of maneuvering on the battlefield and in urban areas.

The battery-powered drone was built by AeroVironment for the Pentagon's research arm as part of a series of experiments in nanotechnology. The little flying machine is built to look like a bird for potential use in spy missions.

The Hummingbird is the result of a five-year effort, announced Thursday by the company and the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Equipped with a camera, the drone can fly at speeds of up to 11 mph, AeroVironment said. It can hover and fly sideways, backward and forward, as well as go clockwise and counterclockwise, by remote control for about eight minutes.

The quick flight meets the goals set forth by the government to build a flying "hummingbird-like" aircraft. It also demonstrates the promise of fielding mini-spy planes. Industry insiders see the technology eventually being capable of flying through open windows or sitting on power lines, capturing audio and video while enemies would be none the wiser.

With a wingspan of 6.5 inches, the mini-drone weighs just over half an ounce, or less than a AA battery. The Hummingbird's guts are made up of motors, communications systems and a videocamera. It is slightly larger than the average hummingbird.

For now, the Hummingbird is just a prototype, Matt Keennon, the company's manager on the project, said. But 10 years from now, he sees the technology carrying out detailed reconnaissance missions.

But it's not likely to be a "hummingbird," considering that that's a rare bird in, say, New York City.

"I'm not a bird expert, but a sparrow seems to be better," Keennon said.

Pocket-sized 'hummingbird' drone aims to flutter into enemy territory 02/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  2. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  3. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget

    K12

    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. [iStockphoto.com]
  4. All Eyes photo gallery: 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 79, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 79 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped. The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it …

    Rescuers work on a collapsed building on Amsterdam Avenue in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, Sept. 19, 2017. Dozens have been reported killed across the country, including 42 in the state of Morelos, close to the epicenter of the quake, and at least 20 buildings in Mexico City have collapsed. (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times) XNYT169
  5. Rays video tribute to ex-manager Joe Maddon upon return with Cubs

    Blogs

    Here is the Rays video tribute to former manager Joe Maddon, who returned to the Trop for the first time on Tuesday with his Cubs team: