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Nano Air Vehicle Floats Like Maple Seed

A nano air vehicle built to resemble an ordinary maple seed is being developed by the Pentagon, in association with Lockheed.


(Nano air vehicle prototype)

This tiny, one-winged wonder will pack a two-stage rocket thruster along with telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors and a power source.

Believe it or not, there's still room in there for an aspirin-sized payload module. The payload would vary depending on the task at hand - looking for biological or chemical materials, or survivors at a disaster scene, to name two likely scenarios.

"The NAV swarm can pinpoint the location of survivors, send the data back to the first responders and help concentrate rescue operations where they are most likely to be successful," Ned Allen, chief scientist at Lockheed's Skunk Works.

Science fiction writers have been fascinated with the idea of tiny flying sensor-laden robots and vehicles for at least seventy years. Raymond Z. Gallun wrote about a tiny scarab flying insect robot in a short story published in 1936.

More recently, Karen Traviss described a bee cam in her 2004 novel City of Pearl.

Roboticists have been studying real-life insects for the secrets to swarm behavior (see Bees Key to Cooperative Robots).

Via Scientific American.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/25/2007)

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