News / USA

California Company Unveils Hummingbird Spy Drone

Matthew Keennon demonstrates AeroVironment's nano-hummingbird spy drone
Matthew Keennon demonstrates AeroVironment's nano-hummingbird spy drone

Multimedia

Mike O'Sullivan

A California company that makes unmanned drone aircraft for the U.S. military has unveiled a tiny flying drone that looks like a hummingbird.  The airborne spy is part of a new kind of military technology that also has civilian uses.

Several years in development, the so-called nano-hummingbird is a smaller and more maneuverable version of drones now used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It looks like a real hummingbird with quickly flapping wings, and just like the real bird, can hover in mid-air and fly backwards.

The company that created it, AeroVironment, develops and tests drones outside Los Angeles.  They give observers an eye in the sky, and spot objects and track people on the ground.

The tiny bird-like drone has a camera and transmitter and a wingspan of just 17 centimeters.   It is operated remotely and flies by moving its wings, says project manager Matthew Keennon.

"It's being manipulated and controlled to allow the forward and backward flight, the rotation and also the side-to-side flight.  And all that's happening by just changing the curvature and the shape and different aspects of the wing movement at a very high speed," noted Keennon.

The tiny drone is still experimental.  The challenge and the funding came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which asked for an airborne vehicle that would mimic something in nature.

Project manager Keennon says the challenge was huge and the work has been exciting.

"Because every time we made an improvement, got better, we were just so amazed," added Keennon.

While the company is developing some of the world's smallest drones, it is also testing one of the largest.  Called Global Observer, this unmanned craft is thin and sleek but has a wingspan almost equal to a Boeing 747.  It is powered by liquid hydrogen and can hover in the stratosphere, says AeroViroment's Steven Gitlin.

"And it's designed to fly for up to seven days at a time at about 65,000 feet [20,000 meters] altitude and carry a payload that either helps somebody see what they want to see or relays communication from one point to another," explained Gitlin.

The company spokesman says airborne drones are used for military surveillance, but also have civilian uses.

"Applications like first response, search and rescue, law enforcement, border security, even facility security and event security - anywhere a bird's-eye view in the sky in real time can help somebody do their job more effectively and more safely is a potential application for this technology," added Gitlin.

And the new nano-hummingbird will go places that larger drones cannot.

AeroVironment engineers say the device will still be in development for the next few years, and may not reach the market in its present form.  But they say the technology developed for the device will be used in future products.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid