Lockheed Martin engineers are developing a UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle) that flies like a maple seed. Bill Borgia, head of the company’s Intelligent Robotics Lab, explains that the project is part of its work on DARPA’s Nano Air Vehicle project. One really cool feature is its onboard video camera that, with the help of software, produces a stable picture that appears to be fixed (non-rotating). Per the designers, the advantage of this platform is compact size and low cost, which can make them expendable. Operation is a bit clumsy right now, but no doubt with improved software and sensors they will eventually be useful.
"The Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program is developing an extremely small, ultra lightweight air vehicle system (less than 15 centimeters and less than 20 grams) with the potential to perform indoor and outdoor military missions. NAV is exploring novel, flapping wing and other configurations to provide warfighters with unprecedented capability during urban operations. NAV will push the limits of aerodynamics, power conversion efficiency, endurance and maneuverability for very small air vehicle systems. These platforms will be revolutionary in their ability to harness low Reynolds number physics, navigate in complex environments, and communicate over significant distances. Flight-enabling nano air technologies include aerodynamic design tools to achieve high lift-to-drag airfoils; lightweight, efficient propulsion and power systems; guidance, navigations and communication subsystems; and advanced manufacturing and innovative subsystem packaging and configurations layouts." - DARPA
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