US Military Creating Bug Drones
There aren’t many people in the world who are big fans of bugs. Mosquitoes, flies, roaches, no one really likes bugs. But it’s one thing not to like bugs, and another thing entirely to have to be afraid of them because you don’t know if they’re recording your actions. Well now, the US military is working on such a project.
Researchers have made it their goal to create a surveillance drone that is virtually impossible to detect, and so they have turned to bugs to achieve that goal. It looks like a bug inspired a bug.
The University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab demonstrated 20 of these new devices, which are fully capable of the kind of flight you would expect to see from a mosquito or a fly.
The military is continuing to step away from large and bulky devices and onto much smaller pieces of surveillance equipment. The current drones are not small enough, cannot hover, and don’t move fast enough to achieve the military’s goals. The military hopes that these devices will someday be able to help in war situations and even save lives. They have remote transmitting capabilities that allow military personnel to receive real-time footage of people and objects. These drones, because of their size, can easily get past blockades and barricades, and send vital information about the situation to anyone who needs it.
A report in NetworkWorld online news suggests that the scientists are trying to reverse-engineer the mechanics of insects so that they can be used to monitor activity on a battlefield or other situations where scouting information can prove vital.
In an attempt to create such a device, scientists have turned to flying creatures long ago, examining their perfect conditions for flight, which have evolved over millions of years.
Zoologist Richard Bomphrey has told the British Daily Mail newspaper he has conducted research to generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350 million years.
“By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings,” the newspaper quotes him as saying.
The US Department of Defense has turned its attention to miniature drones, or micro air vehicles long ago.
As early as in 2007 the US government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies when anti-war protesters in the US saw some flying objects similar to dragonflies or little helicopters hovering above them. No government agency has admitted to developing insect-size spy drones though some official and private organizations have admitted that they were trying.
In 2008, the US Air Force showed off bug-sized spies as “tiny as bumblebees” that would not be detected when flying into buildings to “photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.”
The same year US government’s military research agency (DARPA) conducted a symposium discussing ‘bugs, bots, Borgs and bio-weapons.’
Around the same time the so-called Ornithopter flying machine based on Leonardo Da-Vinci’s designs was unveiled and claimed they would be ready for roll out by 2015
Lockheed Martin’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratories unveiled “maple-seed-like” drones called Samurai that also mimic nature. US troops could throw them like a boomerang to see real-time images of what’s around the next corner.
The US is not alone in miniaturizing drones that imitate nature: France, the Netherlands and Israel are also developing similar devices.