Insectothopter Robotic Dragonfly CIA Tech From 1970s

This Insectothopter robotic dragonfly was created by the CIA in the 1970's. The claim is that tiny gas engine powered it, and that the exhaust was vented backward to improve performance.


(Insectothopter robotic CIA dragonfly)

In the 1970s the CIA had developed a miniature listening device that needed a delivery system, so the agency’s scientists looked at building a bumblebee to carry it. They found, however, that the bumblebee was erratic in flight, so the idea was scrapped. An amateur entymologist on the project then suggested a dragonfly and a prototype was built that became the first flight of an insect-sized machine.

A laser beam steered the dragonfly and a watchmaker on the project crafted a miniature oscillating engine so the wings beat, and the fuel bladder carried liquid propellant.

Despite such ingenuity, the project team lost control over the dragonfly in even a gentle wind. “You watch them in nature, they’ll catch a breeze and ride with it. We, of course, needed it to fly to a target. So they were never deployed operationally, but this is a one-of-a-kind piece.”


(Insectothopter Robotic Dragonfly CIA video)

Video updated 03-Feb-2017

SF writer Raymond Z. Gallun thought about this sort of device as a kind of insectile spy about 75 years ago. In his 1936 story The Scarab, he wrote at length about a robotic beetle that could be used as a surveillance device:

The Scarab paused on its perch for a moment, as if to determine for itself whether it was perfectly fit for action. It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...

...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner. There it studied its surroundings, transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones and saw with its minute vision tubes.
(Read more about Gallun's scarab robot flying insect)

I should also mention the commercial fly that Philip K. Dick imagined for his 1966 novel The Simulacra.

From CIA Flickr via BotJunkie.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/10/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.' - John Twelve Hawks, 2014.

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.' Robert Heinlein, 1956.

Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.

Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'

Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!

China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.