Little Wings

Earlier this year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency started a new "challenge" -- this one for the makers of small, remote-control aircraft. How small?Wasp-4LR.jpgYou've heard of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), right? These are smaller -- Nano Air Vehicles (NAVs), in DARPA speak. All of five centimeters, or less, "in any direction." Maximum weight: 10 grams.Here's Flight International, in May:

The warfighter needs something that can navigate inside a building, cave or tunnel, where MAVs cant go, says NAV programme manager Darryl Pines. We need something even smaller that can fly through a window and provide situational awareness inside a building.
And according to Aviation Week, NAVs' bigger cousins may be moving from the lab to the field. In a report this week (behind the subscription firewall), the magazine says a "recently spotted micro-UAV" was all of 3.5 inches long.
The all-black micro-UAV was silent, flew at about the speed of a person walking, was unaffected by a light breeze and appeared to be under remote control. It was very fragile-looking, and probably weighed only a few grams, according to the Texas-based mechanicalengineer who saw the vehicle at close range.
The story also notes that tiny aircraft like that one could be "powered and controlled via broadband radio-frequency energy beamed from a nearby source."THERE'S MORE: Back in August, Noah delved into the Pentagon's new "Unmanned Systems Roadmap."-- Posted by Dan Dupont
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