More than likely, “yes” and in a very near future. The engineers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are hard at work shrinking the new generation of drones to a size of a small insect as well as developing “flapping wing” technology. The creative minds at AeroVironment are currently test-flying a hummingbird. And that’s not some […]
More than likely, “yes” and in a very near future. The engineers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are hard at work shrinking the new generation of drones to a size of a small insect as well as developing “flapping wing” technology.
The creative minds at AeroVironment are currently test-flying a hummingbird. And that’s not some code name for a little remote-control airplane that can hover and fly backwards. The Nano Hummingbird is a winged vehicle with no tail and flapping wings that it uses as its only method of propulsion. And they have even dressed it up to look like the real bird.
The Nano Air Vehicle is being developed under a Darpa contract to develop a small aircraft that can fly indoors and out. Early test flights of the hummingbird lasted only a handful of seconds, but the most recent flights have extended the range to almost 10 minutes, and it can maintain a stable hover in small gusts of wind.
The tiny aircraft weighs only 19 grams [about two-thirds of an ounce] and has a wingspan of 16 centimeters [6½ inches]. The vehicle is self-contained with its own motor, battery, communication system and a video camera. It’s being developed to be a palm-sized observation-and-surveillance platform. But instead of taking pictures of a building, it can provide a video feed from inside the building.
The AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven is a small hand-launched remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle (or SUAV) developed for the U.S. military, but now adopted by the military forces of many other countries.
The RQ-11 Raven was originally introduced as the FQM-151 in 1999, but in 2002 developed into its current form. The craft is launched by hand and powered by an electric motor. The plane can fly up to 6.2 miles (10.0 km) at up to altitudes of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above ground level (AGL), and 15,000 feet (4,600 m) mean sea level (MSL), at flying speeds of 28-60 mph (45–97 km/h).
The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.