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Micro Air Vehicles 152

Posted by michael
from the watch-out-for-frisbee-dogs dept.
Offwhite98 writes "Over at The Gainesville Sun they are running an article about really small planes used to watch all kinds of stuff. I am sure the common applications for these devices are pretty clear, but if you could use these for a lot of fun. Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results." A little bigger than the Spy Fly but probably much more robust.
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Micro Air Vehicles

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  • UAV's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnHegarty (453016) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:33PM (#3988992) Homepage
    "The planes are operated by remote control and range in cost from about $700 to as much as a couple of thousand dollars depending on the type of video equipment used. "

    don't i remeber reading the air force where spending 100's of millions on uav's ... i would like to see someone shoot down 100 of these after they were droped out the window of a b52.

    • Low cost is good, but it's pretty likely that one these go beyond prototype, the cost will increase to match the nine hundred dollar screw drivers with which they're assembled.
    • There's your chance to get rich. Develop a missile that can be fired from a 6" aircraft _AND_ do some damage and the airforce will throw cash at you like mad.
      • yah...great.. it's all downhill from here....

        "Today two 6" F-16 Air Force jets were fired upon by two 3" SAMs. They were able to avoid the incoming missles, and retaliate, destroying the SAM sites with a few 2" HARMs. Iraq has totally denied this claim and says that they were defending thier national security."
        • yah...great.. it's all downhill from here....

          Sure sounds like it... so how big does a plane need to be to deliver an antimatter device? Once containment problems have been solved antimatter missles wouldn't have to be very big to deliver a .5 gram pay load.

          How much damage would .5 grams of antimatter do anyway?

          • "How much damage would .5 grams of antimatter do anyway"

            It depends.
            If applied on the growing area, I think a lot.

          • *pedantic*

            about 10**-2 * c**2 Joules worth of damage. (assuming total conversion, which is WAY optimistic) c ~ 3*10**8 , so 9 * 10**14 Joules.
            According to http://pointa.autodesk.com/local/eng/portal/resour ces/cad/formulas.jsp?po=eng
            a tonne of TNT has 4.2 * 10**9, so about 2 * 10**5 tonnes TNT, or in human speak, about 200 kilotonnes.

            Nice yield for half a gram worth of payload.
      • ummm...
        why not just remove the camera, and insert a grenade?
      • "...where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally
        swallowed by a small dog."
  • by tramm (16077) <hudson@swcp.com> on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:35PM (#3989004) Homepage
    Or you can build your own UAV with Free Software and a soldering iron... We're not quite ready to fly autonomously, but we do have a working inertial measurement unit, GPS navigation and control board. It's all GPLed and kits for the control board are available.

    http://autopilot.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

  • And you thought the X10 cameras were *NOT* used for improper spying... sheesh
  • I've often wondered how many flying saucer stories started out with somebody spotting an experimental aircraft test.
    • A lot of them, since "Area 51" is where the US makes all their new aircraft, and experiments with many different kinds of aircraft. I forget the actual name of the airfield.
      • The base is located in the giant sunken hole created by the now-dried Groom Lake. That's the official name of the base, I believe.
      • Groom Lake Test Facility, on the Groom dry lake bed.
      • I don't mean the usual Nevada/New Mexico stories. I mean experimental aircraft that aren't all the weird, but look unfamiliar enough to make suggestible people think of spaceships.

        It's probably not the best example, but the Avrocar [autobahn.mb.ca] comes to mind. It's tantalizing, because it was an actual flying saucer that was being developed just when the flying saucer stories started to become commonplace. The funny thing is that, although the project was secret, it wasn't to hide it from the Soviets. Avro was more concerned about other aircraft companies with deeper pockets, that could have leapfrogged their development effort if they'd gotten wind of it.

  • "Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results"

    Yeah, like the planes crashing into each other and then into the guests, cake, etc.
    • "Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results"

      Or a very quick divorce...

    • With a differential GPS system and collision avoidance programmed into the computer controlling it all, I would guess collisions wouldn't be so much of a worry. I do wonder what more you would get other than a lot of cleavage shots.

      Oh, and if some bright boy brings down the controller, it shouldn't be too hard to have safe landing zones set up beforehand and a constantly updating solution for getting to them in case of a loss of communication.
  • Always Moving? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phraktyl (92649) <<wyatt> <at> <draggoo.com>> on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:40PM (#3989033) Homepage Journal

    While this is a very cool technology, and quite the advancement, I wonder how practical it is. Like large aircraft, it has many limitations on movement: forward or... forward. Take his football kickoff example: it would follow the kickoff, and then would loose the ball in the time it takes to circle around the other way.

    Wouldn't this have been more useful if it were based off a more maneuverable platform such as a helicopter?

    • Most radio controlled aircrafts (especially slow ones) have better control than large airplanes and can usually make a turn with a radius 1 or 1.5 times the wing-span. I bet this plan can turn even quicker - on a dime - in less than 0.5 second. (Provided the pilot is competent.)
      • Yes, but what would make it about 100 times more useful would be if it could hover. THAT would be great. Imagine one of these things zipping around like a dragonfly. Hover, zip somewhere, stop, hover, zip some more, hover. You know what I'm talking about. That would be hot.
        • Just to _spin_ on this string of arguement. Helicopters and insects (which are the two (except VTOLs) that can hover) are subject to much more complicated aerodynamical constructions. So, when we first have a plane that small, that can spin around on a dime, just mount a gyro controlled camera that will keep focus locked at one point in one angle. Probably a tough challenge, but not impossible.
          • I don't know too much about the feasibility in applying this stuff. All I know is what would be REALLY useful. And a machine the size and maneuverability of a dragon fly would be REALLY useful. Can you even imagine?...

            I look at it this way. The dragonfly does it fine. It's definitely possible. It's only a matter of time.
            • A dragonfly wouldn't make a very good indoor spy though. You'd want a small moth, or a common housefly, or ladybug, or even a mosquito, depending on the locale.

              These tiny spies probably wouldn't have enough juice to fly home alone though, so they could sneak their way outside and hitch a ride on its dragonfly buddy, which in turn could hitch a ride on their pigeon comrade, which would then have enough juice to fly back to base and/or transmit when in range...

              Guess military complexes and government buildings will have to be hermetically sealed and have hunter-killer insects to guard the weakpoints. That cockroach in The Fifth Element didn't seem to have much of a problem getting past security though. :)

              --

    • For some applications it would probably be much easier to put up a gimballed, stablized, video platform under a weather ballon.
      • Yeah, that's how they've been doing it at sports events for quite some time - although shaped like mini blimps usually. Anyway, I have definitely seen those with video.

        Obviously, 10 minutes and 1/2 mile seems kind of short for most applications. I wonder how much bigger you have to go to get, say an hour flight time.
    • Airplanes use aerodynamics to gently finesse lift out of the air.

      Helicopters are so ugly the ground repels them.

      M@
    • A helicopter stands still by furiously blowing air downwards. This could easily blow the football off its direction.
    • Maybe put a little transmitter in the football that the plane focuses on. The one pictured in the link only had one propeller but they could add more to give it more mobility. kind of like vtol
  • by eyepeepackets (33477) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:41PM (#3989036)
    ...the nanotech devices which are so light they don't need to fly, just float with flagellum for guidance mechanisms.

    Gotta read "Diamond Age" again soon, it was a good read.

  • i just saw a pop-up at Yahoo for the new MAV w/ an X10 camera mount.
  • Has anybody read the book 'The Artificial Kid' by Bruce Sterling? The basic gyst is that people stage fights with each other, film them, and then sell the films. They film them by having several tiny cameras fly around their body, taking in the action from different angles. If I could just get a few of these together, strap some tiny cameras on them, and get a pair of padded nunchucks, I'd be all set.
    • I was just thinking about that book, while reading this...

      The basic gyst is that people stage fights with each other, film them, and then sell the films.

      Actually, that was just a minor point of the overall story. But it was stilla cool idea. Also, the cameras hovered, so you can't really think of them as planes.

      If you want to see another story where floating cameras get a lot of treatment, try Farewell Horizontal, by K.W. Jeter.
      It's out of print, though, so you'll have to hit a used bookstore [powells.com].
  • Well, we all know what the common application for the x10 cams are... er, I mean the hinted application.

    So what else would people do with a fully mobile flying camera with a live video feed?
    • Notice that new innovations in the high tech sector almost always ends up being used in the military first and foremost, and then by end-user consumers afterwards?

      Looks like this trend might be changing.

      Perhaps the new chain of command fuelling high-tech innovation are: internet / adult entertainment first and end-user / military second...

      Well...at least porn doesn't kill....yet.

  • Buy shares!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Neuronerd (594981)
    You cant possibly hire enough people to fly each of these planes if you use them for surveillance. Working in an institute that is heavily involved in modern forms of AI I can assure you that the number of crashing /dying planes will be immense.

    Its really difficult to make a driving robot come back home. They always hit things or are very slow.

    These planes better be really cheap! And the firms that deliver them will have to deliver them in the millions if a few hundred of them are to be in the air at any point of time.
    • Yes, it would be expensive to pay that many people, unless you say took 5 and programmed them to fly in formation off the lead man, who was being flown by a human......
      • If you're using them for surveillance, there's not much point in putting 5 of them in right next to each other. They'd all get the same data.
    • "Working in an institute that is heavily involved in modern forms of AI I can assure you that the number of crashing /dying planes will be immense" Um. . are you smoking crack? I know for a FACT (having a roomie that's a pilot) that commercial autopilots can handle damn near the ENTIRE flight as is. In fact there is an article in this months Scientific American (or is it Discovery?) detailing the work. I suggest you read the article (and do a bit of research) before commenting on it. These are not AI's. They've got very very little to do with a true AI.
  • by putrescence (588712) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:45PM (#3989053)

    PLIF [plif.com] .

  • For those that are interested here is a news release from the competition held in Utah.

    http://unicomm.byu.edu/news1/mynews/releases/arc hi ve02/apr/miniairplane.htm

  • How long until the porn industry does something with one of these?

    "The first erotic feature to include low-level fly bys of all the action!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:55PM (#3989085)
    I actually attend class in the same building at University of FL as the micro-planes people. I attended a demonstration which was way cool.

    They've developed an algorithm that can scan the horizon and auto-determine the horizon. In a side-by-side comparison between a human pilot and computer, the human could make you very sick. The vidoe jumps as the plan flys very erratically. With the computer algorithm, the plane flies smooth.

    Another note, they use a PC to do the processing. The demo guy actually has an Apple laptop and runs all the video in quicktime. The PC processes the avi quicktime video, and returns the flight control info to the micro-flight airplane.

    Another not, they are funded heavily by the DOD.

    Another problem is fuel. The micro-planes only have enough fuel for a few times around a football field, and their range is similarly limited.

    Finally, the coolest video they have is where the plane tracks a moving vehicle, and follows behind it.

    Torsten
  • Uses.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jhaberman (246905) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:58PM (#3989099)
    Ya know folks... Just because something isn't very useful to the common public, doesn't necessarily mean that it is entirely useless.

    I'm sure there are TONS of commercial/industrial uses that can't be predicted just yet...

    Jason
    • Security...you could cover MUCH more distance with one of these than walking...

      Border Patrol... nuff said...

      Stealing base signs...err... I mean...
  • MAVs and MFIs (Score:3, Informative)

    by vortimax (409529) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @06:58PM (#3989100) Homepage
    robots.net [robots.net] frequently has articles on Micro Air Vehicles and Micromechanical Flying Insect robots. The Berkley MFI Project Overview [berkeley.edu] is another good place to get more info.
  • by taernim (557097)
    de plane, de plane.... de really, really small plane!
  • Over a Moller Int. [moller.com] they say they have a prototype for a flying passenger car. They've defined success as "more than one minute out of ground effect". Further evidence of their advanced technology is the press release is dated Aug 2002 which (today) means its from the future. In the FAQ they say two years and four more for the FAA - $500k for limited production with price dropping to 80k. Might be vaporware, but I want one.
    • Moller has been shilling that thing for years.

      "Flying passenger car". Do you REALLY want your neighbor, who can barely manage piloting a car in 2D, to have free 3D range? Coming in for a landing over YOUR house?
  • Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results.

    Results like:

    Shitty aerial footage of your wedding or party ("Honey, get the dramamine - I want to watch our wedding video again!")

    Guests getting whacked in the eye with a spinning propeller

    Stopping your party every ten minutes so you don't miss anything while the batteries recharge

    Yeah, these things will totally make my party rock!

    • You missed the part where the groom's embaressing friend (in my experience, me) finishes his ninth vodka lemonade and decides to start chasing the things, knocking over tables, the cake, bridesmaids, etc.

      God, I love (other people's) weddings.

    • while I agree that these would be extremely lousy if they were used as the sole camera in a wedding/party, they'd be great for adding a little extra frill, a little extra splash to supplement more tradtional video equipment. Things like the bridal procession in a wedding, for example, could be filmed from sightly behind, or in front of, the bride. You could have a fairly candid panoramic shot of the whole crowd, instead of having to have the photographer mind eir way through the celebrators. Also, as it's going to be a supplement, fuel life is not going to be an issue; I'm sure that if this does get adapted for photographic use, they'll have snap on fuel tanks available for it. It'll be a tool, and in an industry where people have tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, a relatively inexpensive one, too.
  • Anyone with info on small helicoptors for stationary camera shots.
  • for these to replace the X10 cameras in the popunder ads...
  • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @07:29PM (#3989212)
    A segment on Discovery Magazine, aired on the Discovery channel recently, covered these MAVs and showed some guy who'd fitted several of his model airplanes with cameras.

    As someone who's also done this I can tell you that it's still important to have the vehicle in direct visual line of site if you want to be sure and get it back.

    When looking at the world through a remote video camera without the benefit of an artificial horizon and other instrumentation, it's very easy to get a small model into a spin or spiral from which it is difficult to recover. Being able to directly see the model from the ground is the only safe way to ensure you can regain control in such situations.

    The problem is one of orientation -- once you lose view of the horizon through the camera it becomes very difficult to tell what your plane is doing -- thus very difficult to feed in the proper control corrections.

    If it weren't a breach of copyright I'd post the DivX video I made of that Discovery broadcast -- it was really quite interesting.
    • "Simple" solution... (Score:3, Informative)

      by alienmole (15522)
      When looking at the world through a remote video camera without the benefit of an artificial horizon and other instrumentation, it's very easy to get a small model into a spin or spiral from which it is difficult to recover. Being able to directly see the model from the ground is the only safe way to ensure you can regain control in such situations.

      The problem is one of orientation -- once you lose view of the horizon through the camera it becomes very difficult to tell what your plane is doing -- thus very difficult to feed in the proper control corrections.

      What about automatic pilots, though? For example, the AeroVironment Black Widow [aerovironment.com], which is a six-inch aircraft, has "altitude hold, airspeed hold, heading hold, and yaw damping" (from the PDF available on their site).

      With bigger r/c vehicles, total autonomous flight was achieved a long time ago, even for helicopters, which are much more difficult to stabilize than planes. This can allow an operator to simply guide rather than actually pilot a vehicle, with greatly reduced chance of error.

      This already exists in commercial technology: there's an r/c helicopter, made by Honda iirc, used for applications like cropspraying and aerial photography. An operator can fly these with minimal training, because stabilization is automatic.

    • it's very easy to get a small model into a spin or spiral from which it is difficult to recover.

      Then the solution is auto stabilization, like the previous poster mentioned.

      Another solution (for human pilots) is to immerse the virtual pilot better by using two cameras instead of one -- for stereo separation -- and gimble it to match head movement.

      Human pilots shouldn't be flying these things anyway; they should be guiding them, just like how the rest of non-recreational aviation is going to end up in the next few decades.

      --

    • Can I have the divx, please???
  • www.aerovironment.com/area-aircraft/unmanned.html from a /. post a few days ago. These are the same people who develop those super high alttitude solar planes w/NASA. A link on the page leads to a technical paper (w/interesting details) of the 'Black Widow' a 6-inch MAV seemingly much further along than the ones at U of Florida. (30 mph, 30 min flights) Cheap too. I want one.
  • Reminds me of (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mstyne (133363) <mike@alphamonke[ ]rg ['y.o' in gap]> on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @07:43PM (#3989252) Homepage Journal
    A tremendously slimmed down Cypher [russian.ee]... although these little guys probably won't lob grenades at you.. Wasn't there something like this in Perfect Dark [perfectdark.com]?
  • One of the Lockheed employee newsletters ran a story on these recently.

    They don't seem to have any of it that I can find on the web but I did run across this [intelligenceonline.com] site that has some good info on what DARPA, Lockheed and others are doing in this area.

  • Cool, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cachorro (576097)
    Aside from the coolness factor, I can't see how this could ever be competitive with something based on a helium balloon.

    Sure a balloon couldn't manuever quite so fast, but it would have a much improved range.

    • mini planes would be easier to deploy and recover in field conditions.
    • Re:Cool, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeremi (14640)
      Add a balloon to one of these, and a can of compressed helium to inflate the balloon with, and you can have the best of both worlds. Fly it to your favorite spot, inflate the balloon, hang around for as long as you like, then deflate the balloon and fly home.

      Well, conceivably anyway....

    • Ballon designs certainly have a longer range, but they're much easier to see.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @08:13PM (#3989368) Journal
    Ok, people are talking about these not being suitable for much because they can't hover or, have too large turning circles. Also, i see people are complaining about the cost and the battery life. Heres my idea.

    Humming-birds have wings and can hover. They also have the ability to fly for extended periods, and when they get tired they can perch on the nearest ledge. Obvously, technology is not at the stage where this could be easily implemented into a Humming-bird sized package, and cheaply. However, Humming-birds themselves are relatively plentiful. What if, you attached a minature camera and transmitter to.. a Humming-bird? "But you cant control it!!" i hear you say. What if, you attached electrodes in such away that you could control, or atleast influence the flight. The bird would still keep priority control for dodging obsticles and landing when tired, but you would be able to control the basic directional element, and the direction of the camera. If you employed a flock of Humming-birds you could maintain a good deal of coverage for any event. Also, Humming-birds come with AI and basic flight control systems built in reducing the need for on-board electronics witch in turn reduces weight. For example, the bird has a built in gyroscope and can automatically 'right itself and maintain level flight.

    The battery life of the camera could also be extended by attaching the power and/or data cables to the bird and having them trail behind, this would also prevent the bird from going out-of-range.

    The millitary applications for this are also good - since no-one would look twice at a Humming-bird on a battle feild, they could be fitted with explosive devices to create humming-suicide-bombers (although the payload would be small).
    • Quoth the user "The millitary applications for this are also good - since no-one would look twice at a Humming-bird on a battle feild, they could be fitted with explosive devices to create humming-suicide-bombers (although the payload would be small)."
      This was tried already years ago. During WW2, the US army experimented in tying small bombs to the legs of bats. When the bats were set free, they would go home to roost in dark areas, hopefully enemy buildings and the bombs would explode.
    • Yes, but how much equipment can they actually carry? How many hummingbirds would you need to be able to carry, oh let's say, a coconut? And are you referring to an African or a European... ah never mind.

      Regards / ushac
    • Many flocking birds have a magnetic sense that allows them to know which direction they should be flying in.. perhaps this could be harnessed to control the general direction that an individual bird carrying a payload flies in, in the way you describe.
    • While humming birds might have the agility we're looking for, as well as the low profile, they're hardly better than batteries. Flapping wings 60 times a second takes a lot of energy. A whole lot of energy. Humming birds spend just about every waking moment seeking out an extremely high-energy food source (nectar) and consume well over their body weight every day. Have you ever seen a humming bird that wasn't eating?

    • Yeah, I could see us using a suicide bomer humming bird in the middle east. So a bunch of guys are standing around with their big guns, then this bird comes out of nowhere and explodes in their faces. Yeah, it probably wouldn't kill anyone, but it sure would freak them out!

      A couple minutes later, a flock flies towards them...

      Run away! :P
  • Buy a MAV today (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Check out http://www.spyplanes.com . $30K and you can buy a fully autonomous 5 foot wingspan plane (folds down to fit in a golf bag!) with a built-in gyro-stabilized camera. MLBco also makes a 6" remote-controlled MAV that has a mini camera and radio transmitter in it -- it's demonstrated a 20 minute flight time at 60mph. You can't see this thing if it's more than half a mile away; you have to pilot it using the video downlink.
  • by weston (16146)
    Everyone is going to be thinking of video applications... but what I want is audio. The ability to place a mic anywhere in a room arbitrarily would make me happy.

    Of course noise is going to be a problem, and hovering too, but that's my wish.....
  • To scout for cops hiding behind bushes etc. when i am speeding on the highway. hehe... takes the radar-gun / radar-detector war to a whole new level.

    i'd imagine they make it illegal for spy-cams to fly above the speeding limit, though. (or just outlaw them on public highways outright.) if, that is, too many people start using it for that purpose.

    actually i thought about building something for that (a bit larger, though), but havn't got the chance to yet. will keep y'all posted
  • tell me how 10 little noisemakers flying arround over a wedding is a good thing? and ... what happens when they malfuction.. it wont exactly be a bird falling from the sky, whatever they're made out of would probably hurt if it hit someone..
  • "Once you're down to a certain size it's like 'what's the difference between a 5-inch and a 6-inch airplane.'"

    Ooo! and Ahh....

    What? You mean 'airplane' isn't a euphemism? =]
  • ... would be to buzz Florida Field [gatorcountry.com] (Ben Hill Griffen for you "youngsters" in g'ville) during football games....
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @09:31PM (#3989683) Homepage
    OK, now I know what's been nagging at me... in Raymond Z. Gallun wrote a story which appeared in "Astounding Stories" in August, 1936, and which I read as a kid in Groff Conklin's anthology, "Science Fiction Thinking Machines."

    "The Scarab ... was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length... it dipped in its flight and its quart-lensed eyes took in the scene below.... Excited shouts and cries were detectable to the sensitive, microphonic ears of The Scarab...."

    It flies miles, into the room where the Bad Guys are broadcasting an extortion request: they will kill a million citizens unless "all available radium in the country is brought to our laboratory."

    "The mind that controlled the Scarab had seen and heard enough. Now it decided that the moment in which to act had come. With a whir the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself." It injects an anesthetic; the Bad Guy loses consciousness; the nation is saved.

    The brilliant, crippled, wheelchair-confined detective explains "A fella can't just sit around, you know. And so I got to thinking that if I had a little radio-controlled robot to do my crook-chasing for me--well, anyway, I wrote a letter to our good friend Dr. Clyde Allison, explaining my situation... after a while the Scarab and all the controls that deliver it were delivered here.... "
    • Your scarabs are nicer than the ones I have to deal with. The ones that get thrown at me do 120 damage and kill a hord of Hydralisks faster than you can say SH! (*Pop Dead*).
  • Stalking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @09:57PM (#3989800) Journal
    Imagine the tabloids getting ahold of these things. Already stars have people climbing fences and using telephoto lenses.

    Now, just pop a drone in the air and overfly the target. How about flying up to the window of a high rise building?

    Add a microphone, instead of video camera, for a twist.

    Once they get these babies to HOVER, they will be fantastic. Not that they aren't now.

    Imagine automatically dispatching a micro drone to check out a disturbance/noise from the safety of security central? Your camera can't see behind the tree? Fly around it.

    Add a little radar and do some 3D terrain mapping...

    ad infinitum
    • Thus a new 2nd amendment battle is born, are mini-AA missiles legal under the US Constitution?
    • Once they get these babies to HOVER, they will be fantastic. Not that they aren't now.

      Minature dirigibles. Better in several respects for some applications. They don't have the speed of these, but they can hover well and can have considerably better fuel/battery efficiency.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday July 31, 2002 @10:43PM (#3989978) Homepage Journal
    then Imagine Saddam swatting a pesky misquito not realizing that it cost 10 million dollars to manufacture.
  • MAV is singularly unimaginative. 'Electric Sparrow' is the obvious better choice.
  • In this article, plus the linked Spy Fly piece from CNN, three different aero geeks from three different universities are shown in three different pictures. These guys could be brothers, or even twins.

    Either:

    There is some sort of 'aero geek chic' I don't know about

    We're witnessing the visual manifestation of genetic selection for an obsession with small flying objects

    This is the early stages of an alien invasion.

    Look again: http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/07/27/flying microbots.ap/index.html
    and: http://www.gainesvillesun.com/articles/2002-07-31c .shtml

  • Goodbye borders! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who needs a Cessna when you have a hundred MAVs? 100 payloads of 5 grams at $100 a gram, delivered over the Rio Grande from half a mile away...or perhaps a coordinated strike of a hundred little half-ounce plastique charges zipping in under the White House radar at 4 a.m. -- thanks, D.O.D! NOT!

    So much for the parasites -- now, how can we counter-program a system to detect and take down such a threat? Maybe Star Wars on a much, much smaller scale?

  • Anti-bug security (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674)
    I figure it won't be long until someone starts mentioning security and privacy concerns in this thread, much the same as in the Spy Fly thread. The potential for privacy breaches with this kind of technology (taken to its final stupidity) is mind boggling. However, there are several easy methods of maintaining your security and privacy. The first and perhaps most effective means would be to have some kind of device that generates a lot of electromagnetic waves or interference. Simply sweep a room with a big electromagnet and you will either short the bug out or pull it right onto the thing for you to crush, contain, whatever. Second would be an EMP device. Such a device would be decidedly more effective and thurough than an electromagnet, but I think its a bit impractical because of the side effects. Sure, you'd short out any bugs that might be spying on you, but you'd be reduced to either magnetically shielding everything you own or living like the Amish. A third option would be to introduce some kind of predator. Either develop countermeasure bugs or natural predators that prey on the look-alike species. A countermeasure bug would merely have to home in on transmitting sources to find their targets. Natural predators wouldn't be as good, though, as they wouldn't adhere to any schedules for debugging, and you would also have to care for and clean up after them, etc. I'm sure there are other means out there as well, but this is all I could think of at the moment.

What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.

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