Feeds

US robot ornithopter spy-hummingbird in flight test triumph

Al-Qaeda to form Dick Dastardly bird-buster squadron?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Amazing news from the world of tiny robot spy ornithopters today, as developers have announced successful flight trials of the tiny robot spy ornithopter "Hummingbird" prototype – so named perhaps because it is roughly the size of a hummingbird, weighs as much as a hummingbird and looks like a horse ... no, sorry, like a hummingbird.

Here's video proof, for which we're indebted to Graham Warwick of the Ares blog, who has beaten the Reg aerospace desk to the punch yet again*:

The diminutive flapping-wing spybot was made by famous Californian crazytech company AeroVironment. It has a wingspan of 16cm and weighs just 19 grammes, which is "less than the weight of a common AA battery", AeroVironment says. The little machine also comes with "a removable body fairing, which is shaped to have the appearance of a real hummingbird".

The company says that these specs are a little larger and heavier than an average hummingbird, but there are species of hummingbird which are bigger.

Like its flesh-and-blood namesake, the little ornithopter is capable of maintaining a sustained hover as well as forward flight, and is highly manoeuvrable in tight spaces. It is quite capable of flying into a building through a normal-sized door and then moving about within, controlled by an operator using only the video feed from the machine's tiny vidcam.

As will probably already be apparent to regular readers, the Hummingbird was developed for legendary Pentagon technology shop DARPA, which stands in relation to US military commanders somewhat as Clunk stands to Dick Dastardly of Vulture Squadron: DARPA inventions tend not to work**, but they're almost always entertaining. In this case, rather as in the cartoon, it would seem likely that it will be America's enemies seeking to catch troublesome speedy wing-flappers.

"The success of the NAV program paves the way for a new generation of aircraft with the agility and appearance of small birds," says DARPA bigcheese Todd Hylton, chief of the Nano Air Vehicles (NAV) effort.

More details courtesy of AeroVironment here. ®

Bootnotes

*Damn you for distracting us, Anna Chapman, with your slinky Russian secret-agent-cum-spacegoing-haut-couture-designer antics.

**By intention: DARPA is tasked with high-risk research, so obviously most of its ideas will never work. Even among those that do, there is a tendency for the technology to work in a way that wasn't intended. The most famous example is the internet, which was originally loosely intended for military communications. Instead it has mainly been responsible for various unexpected but nonetheless significant accomplishments – for instance the fact that a significant proportion of the human race has now seen Paris Hilton playing hide the sausage.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.