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Robotic Hummingbird Designed for Spying

It looks innocent enough but this delicate hummingbird is designed for warfare, specifically - for spying.

  Funded by the U.S. Defense Department, the Nano-hummingbird as its called was created by California-based company AeroVironment and project manager Matt Keennon says it's a major advance in drone technology.

[Matt Keenon, Project Manager, Aerovironment]:

"It weighs 19 grams, the endurance is between five and 11 minutes, depending on how it's configured. The maximum speed right now is about 11 miles an hour. It's fitted with a moderately low resolution color video camera, the range is quite short. So right now it's really just a demonstrator that's showing the novel application of hovering flight with two flapping wings."

The flapping wing technology is the secret of the hummingbird's success both in nature and in the robot.

It can hover, fly backwards and remain stable in high winds.

It can manoeuvre with precision and speed unlike any other unmanned aerial vehicle.

For military spying operations in war-zones like Afghanistan, the nano-hummingbird could become an invaluable asset.

It's equipped with a video camera and a live streaming capability that will allow operators to see what it sees from up to a kilometer away.

[Tim Conver, CEO, Aerovironment]:

"It is a very small airplane and it is the first that has ever demonstrated full control in this flapping wing configuration. So from a technology perspective, it's a real breakthrough."

AeroVironment had built and tested ninety different version of the drone before this latest model came into being.

The nano-Hummingbird may still require further refinement before its ready for action but the company hopes it won't be too long before their bird can take flight in the field.
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