The smaller the better. That has been the recent motto with drones nowadays. The hummingbird, one of the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom, has been replicated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is now one of the smallest drones in the world.
The Nano-Hummingbird is almost an exact replication of its living counterpart. Situated at a height of just 15cm and a weight of 19 grams (less than a AA battery), the remote controlled Nano-Hummingbird has a wingspan of 16cm. The drone’s top speed of flight is 11mph and is able to fly straight and true in up to 5mph cross winds.
The Hummingbird drone can fly for up to 8 minutes and is directed and controlled via the front facing camera. It stays in flight by flapping its tiny mechanical wings just as a real hummingbird would. The mechanical wings allow the drone to control its altitude during flight as well.
The Nano-Hummingbird has all of the equipment built in to carry its own energy source while flying. The installed equipment includes batteries, motors, communication systems, and of course the front facing video camera right under the bird’s head in the center of its chest.
The purpose of the drone
This drone was designed for the main purpose of reconnaissance and surveillance. Equipped with a front facing camera, the Hummingbird drone can easily spy on people, locate them in the event of a natural disaster (crumbled buildings caused by earthquakes), and detect hazardous chemical leaks. The drone has the ability to fly in nearly the same manner as the living creature, climb and descend vertically, fly forwards, backwards and sideways, and also rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. It also has the unique ability to hover. This is an extremely beneficial factor because it can hover and perch on a window ledge or over a group of people while gaining intelligence and remaining unseen and discreet.
The drone has the ability to fly indoors and outdoors and can easily pass through any doorway or window that the control-man desires. The drone can be remotely controlled from a distance of up to one kilometer away.
Future of Bio-mimicry drones
The Nano-Hummingbird drone is just the tip of the iceberg for biological mimicry technology. The scientists and engineers at DARPA are trying to make their drones even smaller and more discreet. For example, the workers at DARPA are exploring the idea of implanting living insects during their metamorphosis stage with cameras and sensors. They would then attempt to control these insects through the sensors with electrical stimulation in their wings.
Imagine an entire swarm of insects with the ability to be controlled by humans and spy on people and places alike. That would be the ulitmate demonstration of secrecy, to create a swarm of living spies.
There is also planning for drones to be mechanically built like insects, just as the hummingbird replication. These drones would be able to be controlled from miles away and be equipped with a camera and a microphone. Also, the idea of these drones being able to land on a person and take a DNA sample or inject a tracking device into them has been in the making.
The Nano-Hummingbird drone is already very small but with the engineering and technology being worked with every day at DARPA, we will be seeing drones that are the same size as bees and flies in the near future. The future of warfare and the gathering of intelligence is becoming more and more sophisticated.